Carnegie Mellon University

Photo of City Curb

Reducing Congestion and Emissions with an Airbnb for Intelligent Curbs

This project creates a proof of concept for an “Airbnb” for intelligent curbs. The concept will evaluate pathways to maximize efficiency, minimize congestion, and enhance sustainability for urban networks.

We propose the concept of a smart curbspace, which will be intelligently managed by an Independent System Operator connecting curb users and municipalities or other owners across time and space. Similar to an electricity market, this curbspace could have day-ahead and spot markets, as well as long-term agreements. The teams hypothesis is that automated and conventional passenger drop-off and goods delivery vehicles using an intelligent curbspace could improve energy productivity as well as reduce energy inefficiencies from congestion around delivery sites in urban areas.

Using Pittsburgh as a case study with replicable results to other cities, traffic behavior at several existing Pittsburgh delivery curbspace sites will be observed and documented as model inputs. We will start with sites at Carnegie Mellon, and work with Karina Ricks from the City of Pittsburgh to identify candidate spaces in other areas in Pittsburgh. The team will then simulate the range of energy improvements possible with an intelligent curbspace. Using network and traffic data in the City of Pittsburgh, the team will simulate the combined and comparative energy productivity impacts of automated air and ground delivery modes coupled with intelligent curbspace. We will write a peer-reviewed journal paper and explore company formation. The research has the potential to define the path forward for innovations in emerging smart and efficient people and goods drop-off coupled with intelligent curbspaces.

Project Update (March 2020)

Metro21 Seed Funding enabled the successful proposal to the Department of Energy, titled, Increasing Energy Productivity of Last-Mile Delivery with Drones, Delivery Robots, Driverless Cars, and Intelligent Curbs, 2018-2021. That project led to a patent application: “System, Method, and Computer Program Product for Transporting an Unmanned Vehicle”. Researchers were able to assess a two-stage stochastic program of advanced reservation and real-time usage that would create parking options: in-advance, guaranteed parking for consistent delivery vans and on-demand, first-come, first-serve parking for all vehicles

The partnership with Metro21 enabled the successful proposal to the National Science Foundation to host a Workshop on Sustainable Integration of Urban Automation, 2019.


  1. Britto, V., Han, G., Jaquilliat, A., Samaras, C. (2019). Improving Urban Parking Efficiency with A Smart Curb System.
  2. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2020). A Roadmap for Advanced Aerial Mobility.

Media Coverage

  1. September 19, 2019 Published an Op-Ed with Prof. Gernot Wagner in The New York Times: “Do We Really Have Only 12 Years to Avoid Climate Disaster?”
  2. October 12, 2018 Axios “Ride-sharing and AVs will prompt cities to rethink the curb.”
Project Partners
City of Pittsburgh
Project Team
Costa Samaras, Professor, CMU School of Engineering