What's Happening

House Infrastructure and Transportation Committee Chairman, Congressman Bill Shuster and Pennsylvania State Senator Guy Reschenthaler get a tour of the CMU National Robotics Engineering Center and the research being conducted.

October 17, 2018

Since the beginning of Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) Traffic21 Institute in 2009 our focus has been intelligent transportation systems and our motto has been Research Development and Deployment.

CMU’s current University Transportation Center (UTC), awarded under the FAST ACT, called the Mobility21 National University Transportation Center (Mobility21), focuses on improving mobility of people and goods. Academic partners include: CMU, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), the Ohio State University (OSU), and the Community College of Allegheny County. All have impressive records of accomplishment in successful technology transfer, extensive networks for commercializing faculty inventions and innovations, including providing gap funds, social media networks, test tracks and incubator spaces on or near campus.

Key to this success is the real-world partnerships forged for each research project, including public agencies, non-profits, and private enterprises. These partnerships ensure the research team does not proceed in an academic vacuum, while ensuring ready and willing advocates for implementation and transfer.

Our UTC Deployment Partner Consortium began in 2012 with 30 public, private and non-profit members. Currently the consortium exceeds 80 local, state and national partners.

An annual Consortium Symposium is held to facilitate; 1. Researchers understanding real-world transportation problems and industry trends, 2. Deployment partners exposure to cutting edge research and technology, and 3. Networking sessions to connect deployment partners with researchers and students.

CMU has research agreements with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. In 2016, our University Transportation Center was the lead partner in the City of Pittsburgh’s finalist proposal for the US DOT Smart City Challenge. The Ohio State University was a critical partner to Columbus’ winning proposal.
In addition, local governments in southwestern Pennsylvania have been strong deployment partners including: Borough of Franklin Park, Borough of Millvale, Borough of McKees Rocks, North Huntingdon Township, and Cranberry Township. In 2017, we launched the Smart Mobility Challenge which specifically targeted technology transfer in 6 municipalities from 4 counties throughout southwestern PA.

Out of our early success in using the Pittsburgh region as a deployment partner in 2014 a broader Metro21: Smart Cities Institute, evolved at CMU and developed formal memorandums of agreement with the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County to outline a formal process for the university and city and county to each designate specific staff and processes to manage the research, development and deployment process.

In 2015 CMU applied this Metro21 city/university collaboration model nationally through creating the MetroLab Network which now has 59 university/local government pairs replicating the memorandum of agreement to enable universities to use their home municipalities for research, development and deployment. OSU and Penn are also active members of this network engaging the City of Columbus and the City of Philadelphia, respectively, for research deployments.

The UTC has directed supported research commercialization. Multiple companies have been spun-off from UTC research including self-driving technology company Ottomatica, purchased by Delphi and then spun off into Aptiv, which created 100+ jobs in Pittsburgh. Roadbotics which innovated low-cost road surface monitoring and Rapid Flow Technologies which created the first artificial intelligence decentralized adaptive traffic signals also spun out of UTC research. Both of these applied robotics to traditional transportation problems, raised significant venture capital and created 40+ jobs in Pittsburgh.

Mobility21 disseminates technology transfer products through encouraging and facilitating research publications, posters and presentations:
• The Smart Mobility Connection a bi-weekly faculty and student seminar series open to the public and held on CMU campus. These seminars are recorded and posted on our website for students, community members, and transportation professionals to access anytime, anywhere.
• Research presentations are made at each UTC Faculty Meeting which are held three times per semester and video linked with all four Mobility21 academic partners.
• Mobility21 sponsors the National Mobility Summit in Washington, DC with national partners and fellow UTCs.
• Industry and professional conferences such as the Transportation Research Board, American Society of Civil Engineers, Intelligent Transportation Society of America and Pennsylvania, Mid Atlantic Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, American Public Transportation Association, Association for Commuter Transportation, Women Transportation Seminar and Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
• Academic conferences and journals including the ASCE Journal of Transportation Engineering & Urban Planning and Development, VANET, International Journal of Computer Vision, The International Journal of Robotics Research, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, EURASIP Journal on Wireless Communications and Networking, Journal of Field Robotics, Journal of Machine Learning Research, Journal of Computational Science, Journal of Information Visualization, Journal of Knowledge and Information Systems (KAIS), and ASCE Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering.
• Council of University Transportation Centers, American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials Research Advisory Council, and the American Road and Transportation Builders Research and Education meetings.
• Hosting tours of campus and community test beds and labs by companies, conference technical tours, government officials, academics and foreign visitors.

One of Mobility21’s most effective means of disseminating research outcomes and outputs and making a significant impact on society are our students, particularly those associated directly with the research. Following are specific tactics where Mobility21 supports and facilitates technology transfer through students:
• Traffic21 Women in Transportation Fellowships and Traffic21 Diversity in Transportation Fellowship.
• Transportation Clubs at CMU and Penn.
• Academic and industry conference scholarships.
• Mobility21 staff and faculty advisement of student and capstone projects.
• Mobility21 internship placement with Deployment Partner Consortium members.
• Student presentations and participation in the Smart Mobility Connection.
• A new student section on the Mobility21 website highlighting involvement opportunities and student accomplishments.


CMU Traffic21 Institute’s first USDOT University Transportation Center, Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation was awarded grants under both MAP-21 and SAFETEA-LU. Then in 2016, we were awarded a 3rd UTC under the FAST ACT, called the Mobility21 National University Transportation Center, focusing on improving mobility of people and goods. Professor Raj Rajkumar serves as the director of Mobility21. University partners include the University of Pennsylvania, the Ohio State University and the Community College of Allegheny County. Learn more about Mobility21 on our website, mobility21.cmu.edu.


Photo:  House Infrastructure and Transportation Committee Chairman, Congressman Bill Shuster and Pennsylvania State Senator Guy Reschenthaler get a tour of the CMU National Robotics Engineering Center and the research being conducted.