University of Nevada leads Intelligent Mobility project in ‘Living Lab’

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The University of Nevada at Reno (UNR) is leading the state’s new Intelligent Mobility program, which is an ambitious effort to explore solutions for safe, clean and efficient transportation, and to establish a ‘Living Lab’ in the northern Nevada communities of Reno, Sparks and Carson City.

The Nevada Intelligent Mobility project will build on the expertise of UNR researchers in advanced-autonomous systems, computer sciences, synchronized mobility, robotics and civil engineering, with public transportation as its initial, primary focus. The Living Lab will use the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County’s (RTC) state-of-the-art electric buses made by Proterra, a Colorado-based manufacturer of zero-emission buses. The driver-operated buses are being fully instrumented with a number of systems to sense, gather and integrate a range of data. These complex systems, which are already being tested on vehicles in the Reno-Sparks-Carson area, will collect data that will contribute to new ideas, technologies and systems.

Joining the RTC and Proterra as project partners are: the Governor’s Office for Economic Development (GOED); City of Reno; City of Sparks; Carson City; Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT); Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles; the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions at West Virginia University; and Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI in Germany, which is part of Europe’s largest application-oriented research organization. Fraunhofer will connect the Nevada Intelligent Mobility project to other Living Lab developments being explored in Germany.

Through the Intelligent Mobility program, UNR researchers will be working toward safe, synchronized, zero-emission mobility systems. The initial research conducted through Intelligent Mobility will explore how transit vehicles sense their environment and communicate with other vehicles, infrastructure such as traffic signals and systems, and individual people through their mobile devices. The UNR team envisions the initiative resulting in advancements to improve driver performance, such as improved sensors to eliminate blind spots, improved support in degraded situations such as night-time driving or bad weather, and improved break-time response.

“This marks another important initiative in Nevada’s advanced mobility effort,” said Steve Hill, director of GOED. “The State of Nevada, through our research institutions, industry and startups, has been building an effort to operate Living Labs in Nevada’s metro areas. The Living Lab Northern Nevada will be led by the University of Nevada in Reno, and the Living Lab Southern Nevada will be led by the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, making this effort an important statewide initiative for our research universities and the State’s Knowledge Fund. As a result of collaboration with Fraunhofer, this takes on global importance, and elevates the work we are doing to an international stage, while injecting a layer of experience that will greatly benefit applied research organizations in Nevada.”

Mridul Gautam, UNR’s vice president of research and innovation, said, “Future technologies in transportation and mobility have the potential to be the most disruptive advancements of our lifetimes. Self-driving vehicles, electrified vehicles, automated transportation systems, on-demand transport, and real-time adaptive traffic controls systems are already disrupting and transforming the transportation industry.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).