Carnegie Mellon University

Traffic with headshot of Professor Sean Qian

October 24, 2023

CMU Partners with UCLA on Center of Excellence on New Mobility and Automated Initiative

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, recently announced a $7.5 million grant for a five-year period awarded to establish the Center of Excellence on New Mobility and Automated Vehicles at UCLA. This funding will support research investigating the impact of emerging mobility technologies and highly automated vehicles on the evolving transportation system when deployed on a large scale. 

Notably, Carnegie Mellon University is a major partner in this initiative. Professor Sean Qian will lead a team of CMU researchers at CEE, ECE, Robotics Institute, Metro21 Institute, and Mobility Data Analytics Center, to advance our understanding of social impacts on mobility, sustainability, and equity, with the development of emerging mobility options and vehicle technologies. 

“Technological advancements are transforming the way we travel, but they can also bring about negative consequences,” explains Qian. “For instance, there may be an increase in total vehicle miles traveled due to induced demand, and some communities may benefit more than others. As a result, cities and communities are confronted with fresh challenges in providing efficient, cost-effective, and equitable mobility services for all residents. Our team will collaborate closely with FHWA and other partners to pinpoint research gaps, understand citizens' needs, assess key technologies, evaluate policies, and explore new mobility systems.”

Informally referred to as the Mobility Center of Excellence, this project is financed through the landmark 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Infrastructure Investment and Job Act), which allocates $1.2 trillion for transportation and infrastructure improvements aimed at enhancing transportation accessibility and equity.

Shailen Bhatt, the administrator of the FHWA, emphasized, "Ensuring the safety of the nation's transportation system remains our foremost concern." He made this announcement during the Intelligent Transportation Society of California's annual meeting in Anaheim, California, where he underscored that the Mobility Center of Excellence's mission is to explore how new multimodal surface transportation technologies can enhance efficiency, mobility, and sustainability.

The official launch of the new center is scheduled for November.