Ohio State partner on $20M transportation research consortium

Posted: June 5, 2023

A team of Ohio State engineering faculty and research staff are a key partner on a national consortium that has

program logo, safey 21 innovating safety of all

been awarded $20 million over the next five years from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to establish a new University Transportation Center (UTC) to be known as Safety21.

Led by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the consortium includes a diverse array of partners across the US who will collaborate to ensure that future autonomous, networked, shared, and integrated transportation technologies and systems are developed and deployed with safety, equity and sustainability in mind; that the US can maintain its competitive edge in domestic production and global leadership of these technologies; and that workers will receive the training that will prepare them for these new technologies.   

CMU's research partners include Morgan State University, The Ohio State University, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.  Additional partners, the Community College of Allegheny County and the Community College of Philadelphia, will receive support for innovative workforce programs tailored to both today's and tomorrow's transportation workforce.

The transportation sector of our economy is undergoing a revolution. In the past decade, advances in sensing technologies, computing power and wireless communications coupled with AI and machine learning are directly addressing the quality and the quantity of the transport of people and goods.  Electric vehicles are poised to overtake gasoline-powered cars, with more driver-assist safety features than ever.  Yet, there are still well over 40,000 automotive fatalities per year in the United States, mostly due to human error.  Often, the detrimental impacts of transportation safety failures are disproportionately borne by vulnerable road users including pedestrians, cyclists and people with assistive devices; by neglected communities with failing infrastructure; by workers who are exposed to greater and greater dangers in construction zones; and by those less likely to be able to afford technologies that can help to keep them safer as they commute to work or school.   We see these tragedies too often in the news, and they deeply impact the families, communities and employers involved.

Led by Electrical and Computer Engineering Research Associate Professor Keith Redmill, the team from Ohio State, which includes eight faculty and two research scientists along with their students, will be initially working on six different projects under the UTC to address automotive safety:

  • Eliminate speed and spacing shockwaves that spread along the stream of traffic during freeway congestion.
  • Identify, measure, and manage traffic safety risks directly related to congestion levels and construction activities
  • Understand driver response behaviors to speed recommendations or automated speed changes  under varying technology scenarios and traffic conditions
  • Test automated vehicles and software with an actual vehicle that, using virtual sensors and a highly realistic virtual environment, thinks it is driving on actual roads, while it is actually operating on a large open safe test area
  • Implement a hybrid hierarchical deep reinforcement learning vehicle planning and control system that provides human interpretable and explainable decisions and actions
  • Explore the use of cooperative connected vehicle and roadside sensing to improve the visibility and safety of pedestrians and vulnerable road users in  dense urban environments and shared spaces

“The UTC program provides a unique, long term opportunity to address the serious issues faced by the users of our transportation system,” said Redmill “We are excited to once again be selected to partner with CMU and the other consortium universities in the Safety21 UTC to develop technologies that improve the safety of vehicles, pedestrians, and other roadway and transportation users, and that DOT has chosen to fund this five-year center.  We look forward to making concrete contributions and to the opportunities to collaborate with research and development partners at the other universities.”

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