Carnegie Mellon University

Downtown bus

December 20, 2018

MobilityLab: In Pittsburgh, machine learning improves traffic for all road users – not just cars

MobilityLab sat down with Metro21's Executive Director, Karen Lightman to discuss how Pittsburgh is using Surtrac technology to make roads safer for all road users and not just more efficient for cars.

Surtrac technology, under CMU spin-off, Rapid Flow Technology, has been reducing overall travel times by 25 percent, time spent at inersections by 40 pervent and even stops causes wear on roads and tires by 30 percent. At the same time, Lightman describes how traffic flow is just one of the many benefits of using machine learnings on our roads.

Lightman emphasizes the importance of partnerships in researching and developing technology. Using examples of the partnership with the Pittsburgh School for the Blind being an important partner to connect the traffic singalization with buses and people who are visually impaired. Furthermore, Karen mentions that not all areas of Pittsburgh are the same. While downtown is more pedestrian focused and technology needs to aid in the safety of the pedestrian, other areas can focus more on how to improve safety for bicylists. 

Metro21 is focused on using smart technology to create smart policy for everyone. She says “We use the city as a test bed, and the city uses us as their R & D arm,” said Lightman.  If all works out – and that means smart policy – not just smart technology – Surtrac may be opening the door on the smart city of future in which platoons of bikes, small electric vehicles, pedestrians, buses, and trains enact a dance of perfect harmony.  It will be a city where even the humblest resident gets safely and efficiently to her destination at all hours."

Read the full article from MobilityLab