Leslie Richards: Pennsylvania Set for Transportation Revolution

Not surprisingly, Pennsylvania is at the center of the automation revolution. Some of the best and brightest minds in research, development and engineering are situated at the world-class research institutions in the state — notably Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pennsylvania and Penn State. In fact, the world’s very first autonomous vehicle, a little six-wheeled character called the “Terregator,” was built at Carnegie Mellon in the 1980’s, and the U.S. Department of Transportation has named Penn State and the City of Pittsburgh as official HAV proving grounds — one of 10 such designations in the country.

Last year, PennDOT convened a task force of diverse stakeholders representing industry, government, academia and advocacy organizations to form the Autonomous Vehicle Policy Task Force. The task force operates as a collaborative, consensus-seeking group of experts to make recommendations for proper HAV on-road testing that balances innovation and safety. We are also working closely with legislators and their staff to craft legislation that will safely promote HAV testing and operation on Pennsylvania roadways.

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Smart Traffic Signals Designed for Pedestrians with Disabilities

A two-year project begun by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute aims to develop a system for relaying information from a user’s smartphone to traffic signals – which can then adjust their timing, giving pedestrians with visual or other disabilities more time to make a safe crossing.

"The smartphone can learn how fast the pedestrian moves, or if the user might have difficulty at certain intersections," explains robotics professor Stephen Smith. "The intersection could extend the green in real time… and it might monitor the phone's location so that it notices if (the pedestrian) starts moving outside of the crosswalk." Smith said he anticipates yearly field tests of the system on people with visual disabilities; once developed, it also should work for people with other types of disabilities. Eventually, it might be used by pedestrians of all abilities – such as in suburban areas, where signals aren’t timed to accommodate the infrequent street-crosser.

Smart Traffic Signals Designed for Pedestrians with Disabilities

A two-year project begun by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute aims to develop a system for relaying information from a user’s smartphone to traffic signals – which can then adjust their timing, giving pedestrians with visual or other disabilities more time to make a safe crossing.

"The smartphone can learn how fast the pedestrian moves, or if the user might have difficulty at certain intersections," explains robotics professor Stephen Smith. "The intersection could extend the green in real time… and it might monitor the phone's location so that it notices if (the pedestrian) starts moving outside of the crosswalk." Smith said he anticipates yearly field tests of the system on people with visual disabilities; once developed, it also should work for people with other types of disabilities. Eventually, it might be used by pedestrians of all abilities – such as in suburban areas, where signals aren’t timed to accommodate the infrequent street-crosser.

City Council Eyes Safety as Uber’s Autonomous Cars Return to Pittsburgh’s Roads After Crash

Speaker Gary Fedder, interim CEO of the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute, suggested lanes designated for self-driving cars as the transition happens, something Gross and O’Connor parroted as a possibility after the meeting. Highways don’t belong to the city, but such lanes could work for the Boulevard of the Allies or Fifth Avenue, O’Connor said.

A bulk of the post-agenda revolved around jobs and what council can do to help all workers impacted by automation. O’Connor said he liked the ideas of local level wage insurance for workers and the educational outreach that the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute is planning to help prepare the future workforce. The concern that machines will take over a large number of jobs isn’t new, said Lee Branstetter, faculty director at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Future of Work. Looking at history, he said, “what lies in our future is probably not an unemployment apocalypse”

City Council Eyes Safety as Uber’s Autonomous Cars Return to Pittsburgh’s Roads After Crash

Speaker Gary Fedder, interim CEO of the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute, suggested lanes designated for self-driving cars as the transition happens, something Gross and O’Connor parroted as a possibility after the meeting. Highways don’t belong to the city, but such lanes could work for the Boulevard of the Allies or Fifth Avenue, O’Connor said.

A bulk of the post-agenda revolved around jobs and what council can do to help all workers impacted by automation. O’Connor said he liked the ideas of local level wage insurance for workers and the educational outreach that the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute is planning to help prepare the future workforce. The concern that machines will take over a large number of jobs isn’t new, said Lee Branstetter, faculty director at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Future of Work. Looking at history, he said, “what lies in our future is probably not an unemployment apocalypse”

Driverless Uber in Pittsburgh Involved in Crash

One of Uber’s driverless cars in Pittsburgh was involved in a crash Monday morning, forcing the ride-hailing firm to temporarily suspend its autonomous vehicle fleet while it investigates the incident.  Only Uber employees were inside the self-driving vehicle when it crashed, the company told the Tribune-Review, and no serious injuries were reported.


But Uber grounded its driverless vehicle fleet following the incident. Self-driving Uber vehicles, which still have a driver behind the wheel, were reportedly back on the road and picking up passengers by 11 a.m. Pittsburgh was the first city where Uber began testing its driverless car program, which was rolled out last fall and has experienced some hiccups.

Driverless Uber in Pittsburgh Involved in Crash

One of Uber’s driverless cars in Pittsburgh was involved in a crash Monday morning, forcing the ride-hailing firm to temporarily suspend its autonomous vehicle fleet while it investigates the incident.  Only Uber employees were inside the self-driving vehicle when it crashed, the company told the Tribune-Review, and no serious injuries were reported.


But Uber grounded its driverless vehicle fleet following the incident. Self-driving Uber vehicles, which still have a driver behind the wheel, were reportedly back on the road and picking up passengers by 11 a.m. Pittsburgh was the first city where Uber began testing its driverless car program, which was rolled out last fall and has experienced some hiccups.

Intel Collaborates with Waymo on Self-Driving Computer Design

Waymo CEO John Krafcik said fast processing was crucial to the performance of its autonomous vehicles. “Intel’s technology supports the advanced processing inside our vehicles, with the ability to manufacture to meet Waymo’s needs at scale,” Krafcik said in a statement. Intel also said on Monday it had invested $1 billion in artificial intelligence companies over the past three years.

Intel Collaborates with Waymo on Self-Driving Computer Design

Waymo CEO John Krafcik said fast processing was crucial to the performance of its autonomous vehicles. “Intel’s technology supports the advanced processing inside our vehicles, with the ability to manufacture to meet Waymo’s needs at scale,” Krafcik said in a statement. Intel also said on Monday it had invested $1 billion in artificial intelligence companies over the past three years.

Wanna Stop Distracted Driving? Make Cars That Watch Their Humans

That’s why Karray’s team created a prototype system that uses cameras—both Microsoft Kinect cameras and simple dashcams, mounted in a variety of locations on a simulated dashboard—to detect hand movements and algorithms to then grade them on how likely they are to put the driver in danger. That takes into account the act itself and its context, including the car’s speed, location, and driving conditions. Chatting on the phone while cruising on an empty highway may not be a huge problem. Reaching into the backseat while zipping down a busy boulevard probably is. If the system’s adequately alarmed, the car can give the driver an audio or visual warning. In the near-future, depending on how autonomous tech advances, the car could even take over control.