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USDOT program selects three small businesses to receive research funding

The US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which is overseen by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, has named three awardees that will receive funding to move forward with their research projects.

Each year, the SBIR program taps into the power of small businesses to develop cutting-edge solutions to some of USDOT’s most pressing challenges. SBIR received 68 submissions in response to USDOT’s 2016 Phase I (SBIR 16.1) solicitation. The agency’s next SBIR solicitation will open in the autumn. The SBIR program is a highly competitive, awards-based program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in research or research and development (R/R&D) addressing high priority research areas within USDOT. The program favors research that has the potential for commercialization through products and applications sold to the private sector transportation industry, state departments of transportation (DOTs), USDOT itself, or other federal agencies. Small businesses that participate in the SBIR program have developed numerous new and innovative technologies that have benefitted the department and the public, while providing a basis for growth for small businesses. Only USA based and owned small businesses are eligible to participate in the SBIR program, and they must be organized for profit, and have no more than 500 employees, including affiliates.

The three businesses that were selected to receive a total of US$450,000 SBIR funding are:

  • Applied Engineering Management Corporation (AEM), a Washington DC-based software applications developer, which will work on ‘Technological Enhancements to Improve and Expand Casual Carpooling Systems’. Casual carpooling may be an important strategy to help reverse the downward trend of traditional carpooling in the USA, which has remained at a low level since 2004. Casual carpooling enables participants to ride with different commuters for each trip with no ongoing commitment, and make rideshare arrangements instantaneously. This project will develop a detailed concept that demonstrates the viability of one or more tools and/or approaches to catalyze casual carpooling in a corridor where it does not exist, or to improve casual carpooling in an existing corridor in the Washington DC area.
  • Charles River Analytics, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based human and cyber systems integrator, which will develop a ‘Connected Bicycle - Communicating with Vehicles and Infrastructure’ platform. Dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), one of the emerging technologies for vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, can provide safety information and cooperate with DSRC-equipped traffic signals to provide improved bicycle detection, as well as convey information to cyclists about signal phase changes. This project will design and demonstrate a multimodal alerting interface with networked short‐range transmissions (MAIN‐ST) that will bring cyclists onto the V2V and V2I networks. MAIN‐ST will allow cyclists to take advantage of the safety benefits of being on these networks by providing automated hazard assessment capabilities with a multimodal alerting symbology designed to communicate hazard information to cyclists in an intuitive and non‐distracting format.
  • Novateur Research Solutions, a Leesburg, Virginia-based systems developer, which will work on ‘Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection Devices for Transit Buses’. This project will develop a robust and cost-effective pedestrian and cyclist detection and collision warning system for transit buses. It uses inexpensive but robust sensors, and incorporates state-of-the-art object detection techniques to enable effective pedestrian and cyclist detection near transit buses in different environmental conditions.

“SBIR is a great opportunity for small businesses to grow and fund work targeting research areas that are important to USDOT and the nation’s transportation system,” said Rachael Sack, USDOT’s SBIR program director at Volpe.

April 14, 2016

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