The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) has officially launched its new podcast Thinking Transportation: Engaging Conversations about Transportation Innovations. Hosted by TTI Editor-at-Large Bernie Fette, the biweekly podcast examines all aspects of transportation, from the promise of smart cars to new approaches to improving traffic safety to the continuing challenges of traffic congestion.
Thinking Transportation aims to explore the ubiquitous nature of transportation—how we get from home to school (and work and play), as well as how the products we purchase travel from the factory to the front porch. The past year’s pandemic created a unique set of circumstances to reevaluate how we’re using our transportation network, as well as provided opportunities for studying how to improve safety, efficiency, and mobility. But beyond these technical topics, Fette notes, the podcast also examines the human context—and, sometimes, cost—of how we use our transportation system.
“Transportation is tied to almost everything we do in our lives,” Fette says. “It has a profound impact on our daily existence, so the conversations you’ll hear are about more than technology and trends. Often, by extension, they’re also about how we live.”
Fette brings a wealth of experience as a former newspaper journalist and TTI media coordinator to the microphone. He’s been telling TTI’s story for more than 30 years, translating “science into English,” as he likes to say, for a variety of audiences. In Thinking Transportation Fette will explore all kinds of topics with TTI experts and special guests, as well as discuss how transportation impacts the average listener. The first three episodes cover the following topics:
- Feb. 12. Whoa, That Was Close! Can we prevent crashes from happening by studying the ones that almost happened? Nearly all new vehicles have some degree of self-driving capability and internet connectivity. Every time one of those cars corrects a lane-departing drift, brakes hard, or senses a sharp speed boost, it sends a message. And if we listen to those signals, we could save a lot of lives. Fette talks with TTI’s Research Scientist Eva Shipp and Senior Research Engineer Shawn Turner about a revolutionary approach to preventing crashes.
- Feb. 23. Does the Road Go On Forever? We can’t just pave our way out of traffic congestion. Our 2020 experience taught us we can reduce roadway gridlock drastically in the face of a public health crisis, by reducing the demand for road space. According to TTI Senior Research Scientist David Schrank, the bigger test will come in whether we can do so once the crisis is over.
- March 2. Promises, Promises. Turns out, building a self-driving car is a lot harder than we thought. Autonomous vehicles were supposed to be more widely available by now, but they’re not. So, what happened? Those cars have to learn how to do more than just drive, TTI Senior Research Scientist Bob Brydia tells us. They have to learn how to think, too.
Beginning on March 16 and releasing every two weeks, future episodes will include topics like why deliveries to your doorstep are sometimes late; the impact of transportation on air quality and public health; and an interview with TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree—former assistant secretary of transportation in the Obama Administration—who offers his impressions of national transportation priorities in a new presidential administration.
“TTI’s researchers are respected worldwide as thought leaders in transportation research through organizations like the Transportation Research Board and the Institute of Transportation Engineers,” Winfree says. “Thinking Transportation will give TTI experts a chance to reach a whole new audience and discuss the solutions they’re developing to address the challenges we all face, every day—from repairing potholes to shaping policy. If you depend on our transportation network, listen in—you’re bound to learn something new.”
Visit https://tti.tamu.edu/thinking-transportation/ to listen to the podcast.