TTI, Aruba Partner to Improve Bus Riding Experience
On July 20, TTI and Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, announced an exploratory transportation project to optimize traffic flows for bus ridership and use data analytics to improve navigation at Texas A&M University through Aruba Wireless and Data Analytics.
Texas A&M is one of the largest universities in the United States, with a College Station-based student population of 61,000, and a 5,200-acre campus. Like many large universities, navigating the campus can be challenging across a diverse mix of students, faculty, staff and visitors.
The project is taking place through the Campus Transportation Technology Initiative, which seeks to bring private-sector transportation innovation into the campus community to improve mobility, safety and quality of life. To track and monitor traffic flows related to bus ridership, Texas A&M deployed Aruba’s outdoor access points for dense outdoor Wi-Fi coverage and location triangulation at the most-used bus stop on campus. For data analytics, TTI is using Aruba’s Analytics and Location Engine, and Skyfii’s cloud-based data visualization and analytics.
“Our primary goal is to examine the optimization of bus stops in the implementation area,” said Robert Brydia, TTI senior research scientist. “If a high percentage of visitors move from the current stop location to other venues where there are spaces for transit stops, perhaps stop locations on routes should be adjusted. Our new data analytics will give us this information.”
Statewide Safety Conference Unites Child Car Seat Technicians for Unique Gathering
Organized by TTI and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension and sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the 2017 Texas Child Passenger Safety Conference was held July 10–12 in Richardson, Texas. Safety advocates, health care professionals, law enforcement officers, seat manufacturers, and nearly 300 child passenger safety technicians and instructors (CPSTIs) attended.
There are approximately 1,800 CPSTIs in Texas. Many CPSTIs conduct child seat checkups as part of their employment with hospitals, emergency medical services, TxDOT, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension offices and other groups; but many volunteer their time to educate families on the proper installation and use of car seats. CPSTIs are required to be recertified every two years.
“There are many confusing elements associated with proper child safety seat installation and use,” says TTI Senior Research Scientist Katie Womack. “The car seat has to be matched to the child and the vehicle correctly.” Manager of the Behavioral Research Group at TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety, Womack is responsible for observational surveys to assess the safety belt and child restraint use rates for Texas.
Sessions featured health professionals, pioneers in the child passenger safety crusade, researchers and car seat manufacturers. Conference workshops and session topics included Working with Children with Special Needs, Preschool Transportation, Child Safety Seat Distribution and Education Program, Heat Stroke, and Car Seats and Crash Performance.
TTI Expert Briefs Cyber Campers on Self-Driving Vehicle Research
Mike Lukuc, head of TTI’s Connected and Automated Transportation Group, introduced high school students attending this summer’s Cyber Innovation Camp to the complexity and promise surrounding the advent of connected and automated vehicles.
“There are about 35,000 deaths a year in the nation, and last year we had the largest increase in 50 years,” Lukuc told the students. “Almost all 6 million crashes each year are related to driver error. That’s really the reason the federal government and industry are looking at vehicle-to-vehicle communication and automation: to take away driver error.”
This is the third year for the popular camp, presented by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and funded by the Texas Workforce Commission’s Governor’s Summer Merit Program. It often attracts more applicants than there is space available, says TEEX Cybersecurity Training Coordinator Diane Cornwell.
“One of the goals of this camp is to introduce students to various careers in technology and engineering,” Cornwell says. “Many students from previous camps say the program helped them decide what career path to pursue, including computer science or engineering.”
WSP and TTI Partner to Advance Transportation Research
TTI and WSP USA — a leader in the design, deployment and operation of transportation systems in the United States, including intelligent transportation systems and connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology — have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly collaborate on creating a stronger connection between research and deployment of transportation systems management and operations, as well as CAV solutions.
“TTI and WSP have a long history of collaborating, beginning with the early development of high-occupancy vehicle lanes,” says TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree. “We see similar opportunities with next-generation transportation technologies, such as CAVs.”
Besides sharing expertise, the agreement encourages educational and mentoring opportunities by involving WSP in Texas A&M engineering class seminars and lectures, as well as sponsoring engineering capstone design projects. The agreement also provides opportunities for TTI and Texas A&M University engineering students to gain real-world experience on the day-to-day challenges facing leading transportation operations centers.
“Collaboration between leading researchers and everyday practitioners will help to better define needs for national and state-sponsored research, while helping agencies reflect the current state of the practice in their efforts,” explains John Porcari, president of U.S. advisory services at WSP.
Winfree Participates in National Congressional Roundtable on CAV Policy
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski invited TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree to participate in a connected and automated vehicle policy roundtable in Washington, D.C., July 26. The roundtable, titled The Road Ahead: Developing Policies to Make Connected and Automated Vehicles a Reality, focused on understanding crash risks, safety testing for assurance, and resolving crash liability for automated vehicles.
Comprised of national policy experts, the roundtable identified relevant issues and discussed collaborative solutions on issues including technology deployment, infrastructure requirements and vehicle cybersecurity.
“I’m pleased that TTI was invited to become a stakeholder in this important series of discussions that Rep. Lipinski has been convening across the country,” says Winfree. “It’s extraordinarily important that the legal and policy implications receive thorough analysis so that these technologies can be made available in a thoughtful manner to the traveling public.”
FHWA Texas Division Staff Visit TTI
Seven staff members from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Texas Division spent the day at TTI on July 26 to learn about current research initiatives and tour TTI laboratories. The group visited both the TTI Proving Grounds at The Texas A&M University System’s RELLIS Campus and TTI’s State Headquarters on the Texas A&M University campus. In addition to various TTI research initiatives, the visitors were able to see a Texas Department of Transportation–sponsored crash test of a pickup truck hitting a pinned concrete barrier. The device was being tested for compliance with the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware standards.
“This was a valuable day and brought to light the depth and scope of world-class research and innovation going on at TTI,” FHWA Texas Division Administrator Al Alonzi said. “FHWA’s partnership with TTI gives me more confidence in the future of transportation.”
TTI, South Korean Transportation Agencies Sign Cooperative Agreements
On July 12, TTI signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Korea Transport Institute (KOTI). The five-year MOA recognizes each institute as a center of excellence that can benefit one another via collaboration. Robert Wunderlich, director of TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety, and Dr. Choong Yeol Ye, chief director for global transport research for KOTI, will serve as coordinators for this effort.
“There are many areas of research, professional training and technical assistance that are of common interest to our two agencies,” says TTI Assistant Research Engineer Myunghoon Ko.
TTI also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Korea Agency for Infrastructure Technology Advancement (KAIA) on July 25. Part of the Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, KAIA is responsible for research and development projects, technology valuation, and industrial promotion and commercialization.
“We are pleased to enter into an MOU with KAIA,” notes TTI Executive Associate Director Katie Turnbull. “The MOU will lead to research cooperation on connected and automated vehicles, intelligent transportation systems, innovative services, autonomous vehicle test beds, and other advanced technology applications.”
New Textbook and Workshop Combine Science, Computational Analysis to Improve Pavements
TTI researchers recently published Modeling and Design of Flexible Pavements and Materials, a first-of-its-kind book that can potentially transform the pavement installation process. The approach emphasizes the use of computational modeling to create longer-lasting, less-costly pavements.
“We’ve combined the science associated with the chemical makeup and physical properties of all the components of asphalt with computational modeling to create a tool that can be used to build finite element algorithms,” explains TTI Senior Research Engineer David Allen, director of the Center for Railway Research. “These algorithms can then be used to predict the performance of the roadway over time.”
Allen co-authored the book with Dallas Little and Amit Bhasin. Little is a TTI senior research fellow, regent’s professor and E. B. Snead Endowed Chair Professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. Bhasin is an associate professor at The University of Texas Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering.
“In the first part of the book, Bhasin and I set the stage by examining the chemistry and physical properties of the various materials that make up asphalt, including additives, so that we can model them in Dr. Allen’s sophisticated computational models,” Little says.
The authors will share their method in a continuing education short course titled Computational Analysis and Design of Flexible Pavement on April 18–19 at the Mays Business School in Houston.