Thursday, October 20, 2016

President Obama speaks at White House Frontiers Conference at Carnegie Mellon

President Barack Obama made a confession Thursday at Carnegie Mellon University. "I am a science geek. I am a nerd," he said in a speech before more than 700 people. "And I don't make any apologies for it. It's cool stuff." The assertion was widely applauded at an event that marked the capstone of the White House Frontiers Conference, held at CMU and the University of Pittsburgh. And Mr. Obama spent much of Thursday afternoon demonstrating his geek credentials -- though before he flew back to the White House, he voiced concern that scientific progress also presented social challenges.

CMU to bringing Transportation Unconference to PGH on November 19th.

If you’re into transportation, now’s the time to engage, and the TransportationCamp PGH unconference is the place to do it. An unconference is an event in which session topics are proposed by the participants, where the exchange of information and ideas by the people in attendance is prioritized. Bring your ideas and be a part of shaping the explosive pace of change in mobility, street design, technology, and a host of other issues. Partners and sponsors include Uber, PCRG, Traffic21 and more. Join us on Saturday, November 19th. #TranspoCampPGH

Obama, the nerd in chief, unveils $300 million for science

At an event Thursday, the president unveiled more than $300 million in federal and private money earmarked for supporting science and technology. The total includes $165 million for smart city initiatives, like efforts to reduce traffic congestion.  The one-day conference, dubbed The White House Frontiers Conference, was held in Pittsburgh, a city that has already seen self-driving Uber cars hit its streets and is a leader in health care research. Obama also cited the city, historically linked to the country's steel industry, as a leader for investing in children's computer science education. Held jointly with the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon, the conference is designed to explore technology and innovation at levels ranging from the personal to the interplanetary. It touched on topics including health care innovation, precision medicine, smart cities, artificial intelligencea nd clean energy.

Pittsburgh gets $10.9 million federal transportation grant

The $10.9 million Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act grant from DOT, announced by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, will pay for “smart spines” that use information gathered from a network of sensors to balance traffic and move it through areas more quickly. Another aspect of the improvements will allow buses, public safety or freight vehicles to communicate with traffic signals so they can move through intersections more efficiently. The spine called for six streets that empty into the Golden Triangle — Penn, Liberty, Fifth, Forbes and Second avenues and Bigelow Boulevard — to feed traffic, vehicular and social media information into the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center. That collaborative, led by Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and operated by the University of Pittsburgh, would use the data to monitor traffic and control signals on those streets, similar to the Surtrac system developed by Carnegie Mellon University that helps move traffic in East Liberty and Larimer.

Pittsburgh's thriving tech sector brings new life to post-industrial city

When Uber chose to test its robot-driven taxis in Pittsburgh, some may have wondered why the tech company had chosen America’s former capital of steel for its road test into the future. But for those in the know, Pennsylvania’s second city is well on its way to establishing itself as the Silicon Valley of the east – and even its roads are helping. Unlike many American cities, Pittsburgh road system is literally off the grid, its origins dating back to twisty, pre-revolution forest trails. Then there are the city’s 446 bridges to navigate. More importantly Pittsburgh boasts the robotics department at Carnegie Mellon University, recognized as the leading academic institution in the field.

U.S. DOT Launches New Automated Transportation Technology Advisory Committee

“This committee will help determine how, when, and where automated technology will transform the way we move,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The Department has advanced some of the life-saving benefits of automated technologies, including automated vehicle policy, but we are looking outside the government for innovative and thoughtful leaders to uncover its full potential across all modes.” Members of the Committee will assess the Department’s current research, policy and regulatory support to advance the safe and effective use of autonomous vehicles.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Driverless car tested on UK streets for the first time

"The important thing is it's the first time that we've put a self-driving vehicle in the UK in a public space," Neil Fulton, a programme director at the government-sponsored Transport Systems Catapult which coordinated the project, told Reuters."If people can see that these vehicles are capable of driving themselves they can gain trust in them," he said.
The pod, fitted with software developed by the Oxford Robotics Institute, has a tablet computer on the dashboard which allows the car to switch to autonomous mode with a touch of the screen.
Carmakers Jaguar Land Rover and Ford are both part of driverless car projects in Britain, as major automakers seek to head off the challenge from technology firms such as Alphabet Inc's Google, which is also developing autonomous vehicles.

Could Self-Driving Cars Speed Hurricane Evacuations?

”There are a lot of advantages you can think about,” says Brian Wolshon, thefounding director of the Center for Evacuation and Transportation Resiliency at Louisiana State University. For one thing, even partially autonomous vehicles could improve traffic flow, if there were enough of them. During evacuations, Wolshon says, dense crowding, traffic disturbances, and slower human reaction times tend to depress per-hour traffic volumes, compared to what you’d see during a regular rush hour. If everyone was using, say, Tesla’s Autopilot—which can speed and slow a vehicle in a responsive manner while maintaining lane position (and avoiding rubbernecking)—they could move closer together and at higher speeds, getting more bodies to safety faster. This kind of effect could still be years down the road, though, since “you’d need to have a lot of vehicles with that kind of control to see any real difference in volume,” says Wolshon.

VIDEO USDOT OST-R Transpo Innovation Series: "Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety and Mobility"

This presentation addresses some aspects of pedestrian and bicycle safety and mobility in two parts. The first part summarizes efforts on and findings from a multi-jurisdictional initiative in the Las Vegas metropolitan area to enhance pedestrian safety. This includes an overview of several design and operational strategies at pedestrian crossing locations, measures to evaluate their effectiveness (MOEs), and results of analyses in terms of their relative costs and MOEs.
The second part addresses the influence of advances in vehicle technologies (e.g., e-bikes) and data collection technologies (e.g., GPS and cameras) on safety among cyclists. The role of new datasets, such as GPS probe data or continuous video monitoring, for bicycle safety analysis will be explored. The discussion first focuses on route-choice behavior using onboard telematics or smartphone data. The next topic that will be discussed is way these datasets can leverage other datasets such as continuous video monitoring to improve safety at specific areas. An application of this approach is shown for a problematic bicycle/rail crossing. This presentation also includes an exploration of transportation issues related to e-bikes and how they are likely the most primed to be instrumented and connected vehicles.

Pa. Turnpike to get fiber-optic communications network

“The way I like to think about it is we have a physical (road),” Mr. Fairholm said. “In technology these days, there winds up being a digital twin to that physical (road). So we’re preparing the digital (road). We can communicate and run the physical (road) better.” The microwave system transmits data about collections at toll plazas, E-ZPass usage, pictures from 65 traffic-monitoring cameras, pictures of vehicles that pass through toll booth lanes without paying and myriad other information. Microwaves also connect the turnpike’s phone system.