A new University Transportation Center (UTC) at Carnegie Mellon University will explore cutting-edge technologies that could influence everything from the safety of vehicles and roads to the analysis of traffic flow.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded CMU's College of Engineering and the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science a $3.5 million grant for the next two years.
The grant will be used to conduct research and implement technologies for improving the safety and efficiency of transportation. The CMU/Penn UTC consortium will also establish a workforce development program to train graduate students in modern transportation-related technologies and policymaking.
This CMU/Penn UTC for technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation, or T-SET UTC, a Tier 1 National Center, will be located at CMU in Pittsburgh. It was chosen as one of 22 grant recipients out of 63 applicants in a competitive process, aimed at eliciting transformative transportation research from the nation's universities.
Raj Rajkumar, the George Westinghouse Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Robotics at CMU, will serve as the director of the new UTC.
"State-of-the-art computing and communication technologies can significantly advance the safety and efficiency of transportation," Rajkumar said. He also says that the new center taps a broad swath of new and ongoing research at both universities.
"The idea behind the center was to bring together computer science, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering to do research that will impact how people commute, drive and move around the country," said Daniel Lee, an associate professor in Penn's engineering school and the lead Penn faculty member on the proposal.
Research in the areas of vehicular information technologies, autonomous vehicles, enhancements for safer driving and the development of novel human-vehicle interactions without overloading the driver will be a large part of the center's work. Technology deployment, collaboration and diversity of the technical workforce will also be key goals of the center.
At CMU, the new center also will engage work underway by Traffic21, a multidisciplinary research team working to design and deploy information and communications for improving safer and more economic transportation solutions that could ultimately save more than 30,000 lives lost each year in traffic accidents.
"We are especially grateful for the support of the Hillman Foundation in providing needed matching funds through the Traffic21 Initiative that enabled us to win this competition," Rajkumar said.
The Hillman Foundation enabled the university to launch the Traffic21 Initiative in July 2009.