Carnegie Mellon University

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December 06, 2016

CMU awarded $14 million from US DOT for mobility research center

Carnegie Mellon University will receive $14 million over the next five years from the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) to establish a new National University Transportation Center (UTC).

The UTC, which will be named Mobility21, will focus on safely and efficiently improving the mobility of people and goods in the 21st century by investigating and deploying novel technologies, incentives, policies, and training programs.

Mobility21 is a partnership between the College of Engineering and The Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy. It contributes to initiatives in both Colleges and the university in smart transportation and smart city research and education.

Transportation costs are the second largest expense for U.S. households. On average, we spend more than 40 hours stuck in traffic each year, and congestion costs are estimated to be $121 billion. Truck congestion alone wastes $27 billion in time and fuel, annually.

To address mobility challenges that span multiple modes of transportation, the College of Engineering and its consortium partners, including the Community College of Allegheny Country, University of Pennsylvania, and Ohio State University, will explore: smart city technologies; connected and autonomous vehicles; improved transportation access to disadvantaged neighborhoods; multi-modal traveling; assistive technologies for people with disabilities; data modeling for monitoring traffic control systems; and regional planning to establish priorities and aid transportation deployment.

“This significant award from the U.S. Department of Transportation recognizes Carnegie Mellon’s national and global leadership in the computational technologies that are revolutionizing transportation. Building on the real-world experience and expertise we have established with other CMU initiatives such as Metro21 and Traffic21, this cross-disciplinary effort, led by our College of Engineering, will rely on innovative research from across Carnegie Mellon to develop and deploy solutions that will fuel our economy, keep our nation’s drivers safe, and deliver efficient and reliable transportation,” says Farnam Jahanian, provost and chief academic officer of Carnegie Mellon.

Raj Rajkumar, the George Westinghouse Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon, will lead Mobility21. Rajkumar, who has earned global recognition for autonomous vehicle research, is also the co-director of the GM-CMU Connected and Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Laboratory.

“Carnegie Mellon’s research has helped establish Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania as a national hub for developing safe automated vehicles and has attracted technology companies to Pennsylvania,” says Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Leslie S. Richards.

PennDOT is one of a number of partners that Mobility21 will tap to deploy projects. Deployment partners will help identify real-world transportation needs, aid technology licensing and commercialization, and provide venues for testing technologies.

“Pittsburgh is a testbed for deploying new technologies that can connect communities and provide access to new opportunities. With the City and Carnegie Mellon working together, residents throughout the city will have safer, faster, and more reliable commutes,” says Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.           

Mobility21 has received much support from Pennsylvania’s government leaders because of the impact the center will make in the state and beyond.

“I’m very pleased that the Department of Transportation has awarded Carnegie Mellon another grant to continue the great research it’s doing to improve our region and nation’s transportation infrastructure. Cutting-edge research like this is what attracts industry leaders like Google and Uber to Pittsburgh and expands our local economy. That’s why I was happy to spearhead a Congressional letter of support for CMU’s grant application,” says Rep. Mike Doyle.

“The research that Carnegie Mellon will undertake will help tackle the nation’s transportation problems by finding ways to improve safety, upgrade infrastructure, and ensure that the best new technologies come from American companies,” says Sen. Bob Casey.

“Mobility21 will actively bridge the bold ideas of its research team to meet the pressing needs of our increasingly congested transportation system. The benefits of infrastructure investments can be multiplied with the infusion of innovative technologies and forward-looking policies. We therefore look forward to working closely with institutions in the public, private, and non-profit sectors,” adds Rajkumar, who also directs Metro21, Carnegie Mellon’s Smart and Connected City Initiative.

Mobility21 is the second national UTC located at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. The university is also home to the Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation National UTC on Safety, which was established in 2013 to develop and deploy technologies for safe and efficient transportation pertaining to in-vehicle technologies, infrastructure technologies, human-vehicle interactions, mobility/data analytics, and policy.

The Mobility21 grant is one of five National UTC grants that were awarded in 2016 to advance research and education programs that address transportation challenges facing our nation. Funding for the UTC is authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or the FAST Act.