RISS Update – Participant Continues Progress with XPlane11 Flight Simulator

July 24, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

July 24, 2020

Mobility21 UTC’s Robotics Institute Summer Scholars (RISS) program participant Fausto Vega continues his work, exploring more about aerospace.

“My experience with RISS has been great as I have learned about the aerospace field which is a career I hope to pursue in the future. I am grateful for the weekly workshops, speakers, and the members of the Air Lab as they have allowed me to grow as a researcher.”  Watch a short video where Fausto explains more about his experience and project here.

Carnegie Mellon’s RISS Program is an eleven-week summer (June 1 to mid-August) undergraduate research program that immerses a diverse cohort of scholars in cutting-edge robotics projects that drive innovation and have real-world impact. Launched in 2006, RISS is among the best and most comprehensive robotics research programs for undergraduates in the world.

PA Rural Robotics Impact on Workforce Development

July 20, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

July 20, 2020

Mobility21 Executive Director Stan Caldwell met with Brad Moore, District Director for Congressmen Glenn Thompson PA-15, Venango County Commissioner Chip Abramovic, and Tim Heffernan, founder of the PA Rural Robotics Initiative to discuss the STEM activity between Mobility21 and PA Rural Robotics and its impact on Pennsylvania rural workforce development.

Mobility21 UTC Researcher and Team Advance to Phase 3 of CHARiOT Challenge

July 7, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

July 7, 2020

After winning Phase 2, Mobility21 UTC Researcher Yang Cai and his team at CMU have been advanced to Phase 3 of the CHARiOT Challenge, where researchers build augmented reality for first responders.  The goal is to significantly improve a first responder’s situational awareness allowing them to more effectively plan and respond during incidents.

Preliminary Final Research Results Presented to ACTA for Mobility Challenge Project

July 6, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

July 6, 2020

Mobility21 UTC researcher Sean Qian, CMU student Rick Grahn, and Program Manager Lisa Kay Schweyer met today with Lynn Manion and Amy Mathieson of the Airport Corridor Transportation Association and Phillip St. Pierre of Port Authority of Allegheny County to review the preliminary final research results from the Smart Mobility Challenge project, Data Driven Mobility Service Design: A Case Study for Moon Township.  The project’s final report will be published later this summer.

The Robot Doctor: High School Math Education Through the Lens of Robotics

June 30, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

June 30, 2020

With COVID-19 school closures, the continuity of education for the majority of Pennsylvania’s students is at risk.  Inequities of resources, staffing, and lack of Internet connectivity are making online learning inaccessible for some of our most at-risk communities. This decrease in classroom learning time, both in-person and virtual, is leaving some students further behind and threatens to deepen the chasm in learning outcomes and opportunities. Public-private partnerships are emerging to create just-in-time educational resources to support communities and families. RobotWits LLC, and the PA Rural Robotics Initiative, both Mobility21 deployment partners, and WQED partnered to create the accessible STEM instructional resources, the Robot Doctor, for high school students and teachers.

The Robot Doctor series comprises two parts: 1) eight 14-minute video lessons for students and 2) educator instructional support and feedback channels. The series was broadcast on all seven PBS stations across Pennsylvania to provide immediate instructional support to high school students. Designed to be accessible to most of Pennsylvania’s students in no-tech and low-tech formats, the series can be downloaded from partner websites, streamed, and could be rebroadcast this fall.

The series reinforces critical mathematics concepts taught in high school. The learning objectives in each episode are linked directly to Pennsylvania State Standards in Math and Science and focus on the Pennsylvania Department of Education-recommended content. The Robot Doctor ties math concepts taught in high school to cutting-edge robotic technologies from drones to autonomous vehicles to humanoids.

“The Robot Doctor teaches core math concepts through the lens of robotics,” Explained Maxim Likhachev, co-leader of the project is an associate professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute and the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC), and director of the Search-Based Planning Laboratory (SBPL) at CMU. He founded RobotWits, the Pittsburgh-based technology company focused on self-driving solutions that created the Robot Doctor content and are supporting educator engagement and professional learning opportunities. A key goal of the materials, as described by Likhachev, is to decrease perceptions that STEM careers are inaccessible.

Cathy Cook, WQED Director of Education Projects, explained, “With in-person instruction still being uncertain, the challenge for WQED will be figuring out how to educate students when accessibility is still an issue. With equity as a huge problem, how can students be held accountable if not everyone has access to the same learning opportunities? And, how can WQED help bridge that divide?”

“COVID-19 increased the urgency of addressing the digital divide”, said Rachel Burcin, the project co-lead. “Families do not have uniform access to technology platforms and stable Internet connections. Accessible content that is tied to standards is becoming even more critical as school districts and individual teachers scramble to make remote learning work. In this new normal, TV broadcast is becoming a central tool to reach as many families as possible.” Tim Heffernan, the founder of the PA Rural Robotics Initiative, notes that bringing world-class resources to rural communities like those that he supports opens tremendous opportunities and contributes to economic and workforce development.

“The Robot Doctor is unique for WQED because it is rooted in public television’s core mission of educating our audience and providing direct instruction to students over our airwaves. Additionally, due to unforeseen circumstances from Covid-19, huge gaps were identified by the Department of Education, and we were asked to respond, in real-time, to the need,” according to WQED’s Director Educational Partnerships Gina Masciola.

This public-private partnership engages key stakeholders from government, non-profit, and private entities and enterprises, including the Pennsylvania Department of Education, RobotWits LLC, PA Rural Robotics, and leverages expertise and leadership from roboticists and educators. To learn more or to bring these free resources to your school or community, contact Rachel Burcin at rachel@robotwits.com or Maxim Likhachev at maxim@robotwits.com.

ITS America Announces Winner of the America’s Region of the Emerging Leaders Program Global Challenge

June 25, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

June 25, 2020

ITS America has named University of Pennsylvania, a Mobility21 UTC academic partner, as the winner of the America’s region of the Emerging Leaders Program Global Challenge with their inclusive mobility plan for Philadelphia.

Move, Philadelphia! is an inclusive mobility model for the city that includes multiple strategies to limit private vehicle use within the city using the latest technologies and direct diverted funds to the city’s flailing public transit system. Read the team’s submission here.

The Global Challenge, initially developed for the 2020 ITS World Congress in Los Angeles, was designed to help develop future ITS and emerging technology leaders among university and college students worldwide. Each ITS World Congress regions (Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific) is running parallel competitions to select winning teams – one team in each region. Teams were recruited to design an inclusive mobility model for an urban environment in their area. Europe and Asia-Pacific will select regional winners later this summer.

The UPenn team writes that Philadelphia has long had an equity problem. It is the poorest large city in the country but has experienced recent growth, which has resulted in increased congestion. Philadelphia is the third most congested city in the United States, but transportation issues affecting communities of color and low-income people are widespread. The city’s transit agency, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), is at risk, and the team proposes solutions that will create additional revenues as well as make access to transit more equitable. 

From the UPenn team’s abstract: “Introducing innovative curbside management tools can help Philadelphia regulate its limited roadway space and keep traffic flowing. Increasing fees for car usage, such as rideshare fees and parking permits, will more accurately price the cost of driving, discourage car use in our most congested areas, and create additional revenues for SEPTA. Furthermore, an overhaul in SEPTA’s fare structure and collection will increase financial accessibility of transit and make it a more attractive mode to all Philadelphians.”

Members of the UPenn team, below, are all in the Master of City Planning program:

  • Camille Boggan, from Cincinnati, OH, studied Sustainable Transportation & Infrastructure Planning;
  • Emily Kennedy, from Tallahassee, FL, studied Sustainable Transportation & Infrastructure Planning;
  • David Seunglee Park, from Washington, DC., studied Sustainable Transportation & Infrastructure Planning;
  • Kate Sutton, from Lafayette, IN, studied Transportation and Spatial Data Science; and
  • Professors & UTC researchers Erick Guerra and Megan Ryerson

ITS America managed the competition in the Americas with support from a team of volunteers. Teams from 13 universities in the United States and Canada submitted papers.

A team of 15 subject matter experts representing the public, private, and academic sectors reviewed the papers and recommended three to advance to the regional finals. In addition to UPenn, the others were from the University of South Florida and Virginia Tech. ITS America held the regional final, virtually, on June 8. Each team made presentations and answered questions from five judges including representatives from ITS America, U.S. Department of Transportation, HNTB Corporation, Los Angeles Department of Transportation, and University of Florida.”

Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition Quarterly Meeting

June 12, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

June 9, 2020

Traffic21 Professor Rick Stafford and his Heinz College masters student, Demitra Kourtzidis, participated in the quarterly meeting of the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition (KTFC) to engage with Pennsylvania transportation policy stakeholders.  Rick and Demitra are conducting research on past and future transportation funding alternatives.

The Ohio State University Student-Turned-Employee Racing to the Skies

June 9, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

April 6, 2020

The Ohio State University student-turned-employee Max Wright is achieving his dreams in the Center for Automotive Research (CAR).  The exploratory research program at the Mobility21 UTC academic partner is allowing him to help researchers and motorsports teams build custom parts to enhance leading research and winning vehicles.  Learn more here.

Roborace Autonomous Racing Championship

May 29, 2020
Posted in Events

Read more here

CMU Students Form Team to Compete in Roborace Autonomous Racing Championship

May 27, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 27, 2020

Carnegie Mellon students from the School of Computer Science have formed a team to compete in this year’s Roborace, an international competition involving autonomous, electrically powered vehicles. Read the full story here

CMU Students Share Capstone Project Results

April 29, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

April 29, 2020

Students of the CMU Heinz College engage in semester long “Capstone Projects” to apply coursework to real-world scenarios.  Today, students shared the results of their semester long research projects during a poster fair including the transportation related project:  “Price Prediction Project with QL2 Software.”

CCAC’s Bob Koch featured in WQED program on “Future Jobs: Technology and Our Changing Workforce”

March 12, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

March 12, 2020

CCAC’s Bob Koch was featured in a program called “Future Jobs: Technology and Our Changing Workforce” on WQED.  Bob discussed how technology is changing the way students are applying their knowledge and skills to positions in the automotive field.  Watch the video here.

CMU Transportation Club Kicks Off Spring Semester with Career Panel

January 29, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

January 28, 2020

The CMU Transportation Club kicked off spring semester today, with a career panel.  The panel included speakers from Bike Pittsburgh, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, Port Authority of Allegheny County, Gridwise, Toole Design, and more.

The Ohio State University – CAR Researchers Tackle Extreme Fast Charging of Electric Vehicles

December 4, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

December 4, 2019

An exploratory research program at the Mobility21 UTC academic partner, the Ohio State University, through its Center for Automotive Research  aims to evaluate the feasibility of Extreme Fast Charging (XFC) which would allow electric vehicles to be recharged as fast as conventional vehicles are refueled. XFC promises to accelerate the adoption of battery electric vehicles by designing high-performance, cost-effective, safe and affordable energy-storage systems.  Learn more here.

Mobility21 UTC Program Manager, Lisa Kay Schweyer, met with students from the Columbus College of Art & Design

November 14, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

November 14, 2019

Mobility21 UTC Program Manager, Lisa Kay Schweyer, met with students from the Columbus College of Art & Design.  The students are working on a project to explore design of autonomous shuttles to encourage the sharing of rides and measure user experience.

Traffic21 Launches “Traffic21 Smart Transportation” Podcast

November 8, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

The Traffic21 Smart Transportation Podcast launched today, coinciding with the  Traffic21 10-Year Anniversary Symposium.

This podcast was created to feature and share information from thought leaders and highlight the smart transportation work happening at Carnegie Mellon University and in the community.  Click here to learn more.

The inaugural episode of the podcast highlight content recorded at the 2019 National Mobility Summit.  Listen to the  inaugural episode here.

The podcast series will include interviews and stories from UTC faculty, students, industry and government leaders, community members and academic partners.   They will share their thoughts on the future of transportation, intelligent technology systems, shared mobility, and more.

The Traffic21 Smart Transportation Podcast is hosted and produced by Mobility21 UTC Diversity Fellow Allanté Whitmore.

Update from Tessa Guengerich, CMU Robotics Institute Summer Scholar

July 29, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

July 29, 2019

In June, Mobility21 welcomed Tessa Guengerich as part of this year’s  CMU Robotics Institute Summer Scholars (RISS) program. Currently an undergraduate student at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, she arrived in Pittsburgh hoping to learn more about machine learning and programming and learn more about the implementation of robots outside of academia. Tessa said she was excited to learn about things she wasn’t exposed to before (computational statistics and machine learning) and was also excited to be surrounded by other students from around the world.

Photo from UBTech competition
SCS, 190718B, UBTECH, Robotics Institute, July 18 2019.  Tessa on right.

Six weeks later, Tessa provided this update on her experience:

On my project with Isaac [Isukapati, Project Scientist, at CMU’s NREC: National Robotics Engineering Center], I’m learning a lot about computational statistics and algorithms, and I’m coding in C++ for the first time. I’ve faced a bit of a learning curve, but it’s a challenge I’ve been able to face thus far. The overall project is to write a scheduling program for robotic arms performing specific tasks — for example, given X robotic arms and Y objects, what’s the best course of action for the robotic arms to move those objects safely and efficiently? My contribution to the project is to write a statistical simulator to test the performance of the scheduler with a specific set of parameters, to see where the scheduler performs well and where it fails.

Photo from UBTech competition

Participating in RISS has also exposed me to other areas in robotics I’ve never seen before, like the DJI and UBTECH workshops. During the DJI workshop we had to set up the software development kit for a small drone, and then use that SDK to program the drone for a race of sorts. First of all–I’ve never worked with drones or been forced to think about their specific challenges, so working with my team to think about wind and tuning parameters was surprisingly fun to me. Second, I found it fun to work with four students from such different backgrounds to complete the challenge. Two of the students had experience with drones and were able to take the lead, helping and teaching along the way. It was new for me to be in the situation of getting help from a peer on a common goal (and not for individual assignments or school group projects, where most students have similar sets of skills.)

Photo from UBTech competition

For the UBTECH workshop, we were again placed in teams and tasked with programming a humanoid robot to complete a task of “rescuing” stuffed animals and placing them in “safe” zones. The challenge was two-fold. First, we were expected to connect to the humanoid robot via bluetooth and control it with a gaming controller. Then we needed to connect specific buttons on the controller to specific movements in the robot, and test that functionality. My contribution ended up being to set up the software development kit for the gaming controller to connect via bluetooth (which I had learned a lot about in the DJI workshop). I also helped my teammates to fine-tune the movements of the robot for walking to and grasping the animal. Again, all of this was pretty far out of my comfort zone, but I had a great team that managed to balance each other’s skill set.

Photo from UBTech competition

We’ve also had the privilege of hearing and seeing a lot of presentations from different faculty members at CMU about their research. That has also been an eye-opening experience. As a Chemical Engineering student, most of the talks were outside of my traditional curriculum, but that’s exactly what I’ve enjoyed most about RISS — learning about research I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise, and trying my hand at tasks that initially intimidated me.

Carnegie Mellon’s RISS Program is an eleven-week summer (June 1 to mid-August) undergraduate research program that immerses a diverse cohort of scholars in cutting-edge robotics projects that drive innovation and have real-world impact. Launched in 2006, RISS is among the best and most comprehensive robotics research programs for undergraduates in the world.

CMU Student Noel Lau Awarded APTA Scholarship

July 26, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

July 26, 2019

CMU Civil Engineering graduate student, Noel Lau was awarded an American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) scholarship. As part of the award, Noel will attend the national APTA conference in October, where she will have the opportunity to attend workshops and sessions as well as meet with industry professionals from across the country.

Traffic21 welcomes Tessa Guengerich as CMU Robotics Institute Summer Scholar

June 12, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

June 12, 2019

Traffic21 welcomes and is pleased to sponsor Tessa Guengerich as part of this year’s CMU Robotics Institute Summer Scholars (RISS) program. Currently an undergraduate student at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, she arrives in Pittsburgh hoping to learn more about machine learning and programming and learn more about the implementation of robots outside of academia.  Tessa says she is excited to learn about things she wasn’t exposed to before (computational statistics and machine learning) and is also excited to be surrounded by other students from around the world.

Carnegie Mellon’s RISS Program is an eleven-week summer (June 1 to mid-August) undergraduate research program that immerses a diverse cohort of scholars in cutting-edge robotics projects that drive innovation and have real-world impact. Launched in 2006, RISS is among the best and most comprehensive robotics research programs for undergraduates in the world.

CCAC Faculty Leads Transportation Discuss with Career and Technology Center Students

June 1, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

June 1, 2019

Bob Koch from the Community College of Alleghey County visited the Western Area Career and Technology Center to discuss the career opportunities available in the transportation industry with their students.  The class, led by Koch, also discussed the impact these new technologies could have on the economy, and how do they see it impacting those living in a rural environment.

UTC Faculty Advises Data Driven Heinz College Capstone Project

May 7, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

May 7, 2019

Director of the Mobility Data Analytics Center and UTC Faculty, Sean Qian,  advised a Heinz College Capstone student Project Team that focused on extreme weather events impacts on bridges. The capstone project examined a variety of publicly available data sources to develop a data-driven model for 1) better prediction of washout events and 2)  scour critical risks for all bridges in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Amtrak Capstone “Improving Intercity Rail Data Analytics” Advised by Stan Caldwell

May 7, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

May 7, 2019

Mobility21 Executive Director, Stan Caldwell, advised the The Heinz College Capstone project with Amtrak entitled “Improving Intercity Rail Data Analytics”.  Today, the capstone project team presented their project results, which included their examination of a variety of data sources to develop a data-driven model for identifying and marketing to new customers.

Women in Transportation Fellow presents her final capstone project report entitled “Cost of Curbs”

May 3, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

May 3, 2019

Mobility21 Women in Transportation Fellow, Sarah Cho, presented her final capstone project report entitled “Cost of Curbs Final Presentation” at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. The presentation was attended by leaders from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh Parking, Port Authority and the City of Pittsburgh.

Mobility21’s Program Manager and Traffic21 Diversity Fellow join MASITE Luncheon as Keynote Speakers

May 1, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

May 1, 2019

The Mid-Atlantic Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (MASITE) hosted their Western Area Luncheon Seminar Series entitled “The Black and Yellow Brick Road: Transportation Research & New Mobility in Pittsburgh” in Pittsburgh. There were more than 60 people in attendance for the event where Lisa Kay Schweyer, Mobility21 Program Manager and Allante’ Whitmore, Mobility21 Diversity Fellow were the keynote speakers.

The Vision Zero Toolbox

April 15, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

April 15, 2019

Erick Guerra, UTC Faculty and Assistant Professor in City and Regional Planning in the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania, was an advisor for The Vision Zero Toolbox in Philadelphia project. The project aims to help decision-makers at the local level prioritize initiatives and projects which will achieve the greatest traffic safety benefit and ensure the success of Vision Zero Philadelphia.