Carnegie Mellon University Spinoff Targets Traffic Flow-Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship - Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Carnegie Mellon University Spinoff Targets Traffic Flow

Traffic changes constantly in cities and only worsens, says Greg Barlow, whose company Surtrac Inc. developed a system to improve flow and reduce stops.

He claims an overall 25.8 percent travel-time improvement in tests in East Liberty, and said on Wednesday that Pittsburgh Public Works officials want to see it proved over a longer period.

“Pittsburgh is willing to try new things and be part of innovation,” said Barlow, who intends to incorporate the Carnegie Mellon University spinoff whose computer system improves not only travel times but speed and waits at lights. A bonus, he said: reduced emissions.

“There are 300,000 traffic signals in the United States, and most of them don't work very well,” said Barlow.

Surtrac was one of six startups highlighted at Launch-CMU, an event sponsored by the university's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to showcase research and innovation by students, alumni, faculty and staff.

Carnegie Mellon President Subra Suresh said the Oakland-based school created 36 companies this year, the highest number in its history.

“These give you a feel for the entrepreneurial culture at this place,” he said.

Surtrac installed equipment at nine intersections around Penn Circle in June 2012, and nine along Penn Avenue near Bakery Square this year. It intends to have 49 in the city in 2015.

“Every intersection has a computer and network that optimizes the traffic flow,” said Barlow, a project scientist who earned a doctorate from Carnegie Mellon. His co-workers are Steve Smith of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute and Xiao-Feng Xie.

The Surtac system can use any type of sensor to count vehicles and determine speed, including in-pavement sensors, video and increasingly, radar.

“It runs optimizations constantly, handles disruptions such as a bus pulling over or accidents, and can respond second-to-second,” Barlow said...Read more»

By: John D. Oravecz