Freight Shuttle, New Guardrail Highlighted at Awards Luncheon
Eight TTI employees were recognized at the Patent and Innovation Awards Luncheon May 6, which was held at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center at the George Bush Presidential Library.
Steve Roop, Leslie Olson and Curtis Morgan were honored for their patent, described simply as a freight transportation system and method. The Freight Shuttle is a revolutionary cargo-movement concept consisting of a series of specially designed transport vehicles that carry freight containers and truck trailers. The containers travel on an elevated guideway, propelled by electric linear induction motors.
Patent number 7,656,203 was issued to the trio and former TTI employee Craig Roco in February of last year.
Akram Abu-Odeh, Dean Alberson, Roger Bligh, Lance Bullard and Gene Buth were issued patent number 7,694,941 in April. It’s described as a guardrail safety system for dissipating energy to decelerate the impacting vehicle.
“This system is the first guardrail terminal to meet the new national standard, ‘Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware,’ also known as MASH,” Bullard explains. “It is a tension terminal that has the potential to withstand a second impact, which is different than current guardrail systems.” TTI is currently in discussion with Trinity Industries regarding a licensing agreement, which is the first step before production.
The Texas A&M University System Office of Technology Commercialization handed out a total of 24 Patent Awards to 40 A&M System employees this year.
Christiansen Elected to ITS America Board
TTI Agency Director Dennis Christiansen was elected to a three-year term on the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) board and joined the board at the organization’s June board meeting. He will also serve on the ITS America Policy and Business Council, which focuses on transportation policy, business leadership, and government and international affairs.
“I am honored to be selected as a board member of ITS America, one of the nation’s primary thought leaders in emerging intelligent transportation system [ITS] technologies,” Christiansen says. “I am looking forward to being involved in moving these new technologies forward to improve our nation’s transportation system.”
ITS America was established in 1991 as a not-for-profit organization to foster the use of advanced technologies in surface transportation systems. The organization’s members include private corporations, public agencies and academic institutions involved in the research, development and design of ITS technologies to enhance safety, increase mobility and sustain the environment.
Transportation and Livable Communities Conference Planned
A conference devoted to making communities as livable as possible — including the role transportation plays in that community — will be held Sept. 7-8 in Austin, Texas.
“Transportation is a key element of livable communities,” notes Katie Turnbull, TTI executive associate director and chair of the conference planning committee. “This conference focuses on developing and applying appropriate performance measures to ensure transportation supports livable communities and federal, state and local goals.”
The Conference on Performance Measures for Transportation and Livable Communities will address the current state of the practice by presenting performance measures for transportation and livable communities in urban, suburban, exurban and rural areas.
Speakers in general and breakout sessions will examine the performance measures related to transit, bicycles and pedestrian travel, health issues, access to destinations, the environment, and sustainability. Areas for further study will be identified and discussed.
The conference is sponsored by the TTI (and its University Transportation Center for Mobility and Transportation Economics Center), the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota and the Transportation Research Board.
Online registration for the conference will end Aug. 26.
Traffic Safety Conference Tackles Driving Behaviors
Distracted driving, drunk driving and speeding were among the topics discussed at the 2011 Statewide Traffic Safety Conference in Austin March 21–23. Two-hundred people attended the event, which is organized each year by TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety.
“Let’s face it…some [drivers] still think you can safely talk on your cell phone or send a text,” Administrator Janice Brown with the Federal Highway Administration Texas Section said during the opening session of the conference. “The truth is you simply can’t.”
Brown and many of the other speakers highlighted the improving fatality rate in Texas. In 2009, nearly 400 fewer people were killed than the year before, an 11 percent drop. Preliminary figures for 2010 indicate a further decline.
“These are really positive trends; however, we need to do more to reduce fatalities,” said Terry Pence, director of the Texas Department of Transportation’s Traffic Safety Section. “Texas is taking on the vision statement of Toward Zero Deaths, which you will hear more about in the months to come.”
TTI Graduate Assistant Named Eno Fellow
Nicolas Norboge, graduate research assistant in TTI’s Mobility Analysis Program, has been named an Eno Fellow by the Eno Transportation Foundation. Norboge is among only 20 Fellows named by the foundation. The Eno Fellows program is designed for graduate students in transportation-related disciplines.
Eno Fellows are invited to the Leadership Development Conference, which is Eno’s flagship program for emerging transportation professionals. All expenses for the conference are paid by the foundation. The conference was held in Washington, D.C., June 6–10.
Texas A&M’s TexITEs Win 2011 Collegiate Traffic Bowl
Texas A&M University’s student chapter of the Texas District of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (TexITE) has won the 2011 TexITE Collegiate Traffic Bowl, a Jeopardy!-style competition that tests student knowledge of traffic-related subjects.
The competition was held at the spring meeting in Fort Worth. The Traffic Bowl allows students to demonstrate their abilities and expertise gained through their transportation education. The team will now represent the Texas District in the International Collegiate Traffic Bowl in St. Louis in August.
Seymour Receives Regents Fellow Designation
Ed Seymour, TTI associate agency director, was presented March 24 with a Regents Fellow Service Award, among the most prestigious honors bestowed by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. The award recognizes employees who have made exemplary contributions to their university or agency and to the people of Texas.
“To be recognized by the Board of Regents and the chancellor in this way is very humbling,” Seymour said of the Regents Fellow award ceremony. “However, I think any accolades I receive, especially one of this caliber, are a true reflection of the group of people I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”
Seymour is head of TTI’s Transportation Operations Group, which has offices statewide. He coordinates various initiatives involving everything from intelligent transportation systems and work zone safety to geometric design and professional development. He also oversees TTI’s growing international research effort.
TDS Organizes Festival for Teen Traffic Safety
Less teens are dying on Texas roadways. The number of Texas teen traffic deaths has dropped from 549 in 2002, when the Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS) program began, to 343 in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To celebrate this decline and spread awareness that car crashes are the leading cause of injury and death for teens, TDS organized a festival at Creekview High School in Carrollton, Texas, March 5.
Safety advocates and student leaders from around the state attended the rally sponsored by TTI, State Farm Insurance, the Texas A&M University 12th Man Kickoff Team Foundation, Omni Hotels and Resorts, and PBSJ (an Atkins company). About 300 people participated in the event.
Ray LaHood, U.S. Department of Transportation secretary, welcomed the participants in a video message made specifically for the festival. LaHood pointed out the importance of avoiding distracted driving and congratulated TDS for having the event.
A balloon launch and memorial walk to honor the lives of teens that have died in crashes were part of the activities, which also included food, prizes, music and a dance. Including Creekview High School, TDS is now active in more than 400 schools across Texas.
Leading the Distracted Driving Research Effort
TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety (CTS) recently hired Joel Cooper, assistant research scientist, to champion research into distracted driving, a growing safety concern around the country. He has already testified twice before legislative committees as Texas contemplated five driver-distraction bills.
“CTS recognized the need to improve our ability to respond to legislative and media inquiries in this important area,” says Sue Chrysler, manager of the CTS Human Factors Group. “Joel will be able to make good use of our driving simulator, instrumented vehicle and eye tracker.”
Cooper is co-leading efforts at TTI to assess the distraction potential of the federally proposed program called Connected Vehicles. He will also lead the research on one of the first test track studies conducted on texting while driving, funded by the Southwest Region University Transportation Center.
“Driver distraction is a hot issue right now, and it will only get hotter because the complexity of what drivers have to deal with is skyrocketing,” Cooper says.
RITA’s Peter Appel Connects with Students
Peter Appel, who was appointed administrator of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)in 2009, coordinates USDOT’s research, education and technology transfer programs. On Feb. 18, Appel toured TTI and spoke to Texas A&M University students involved in research sponsored by the Southwest Region University Transportation Center (SWUTC) and the University Transportation Center for Mobility (UTCM).
“One of my passions is to get people in different aspects of transportation talking to each other and realizing shared areas of interest,” said Appel at a luncheon with graduate students. His tour included overviews of TTI, SWUTC and UTCM; a crash test at TTI’s Riverside Campus; and a ride in the Institute’s instrumented vehicle designed for human factors research. “It’s an exciting time to be in transportation, to address the issues of safety, global communities and mobility and deal with environmental issues,” he told students. “I want to personally thank you for being in the transportation field.”
As he was leaving TTI, Appel said he was impressed with what he’d seen and heard. “TTI is a national leader in transportation with a tremendous variety of cutting-edge research. I really like the interdisciplinary aspects of its research.” Noting the linkages among the engineering, policy and finance issues of transportation, Appel said, “It’s great to have each of these groups talking to each other.”