A Summit of University Transportation Centers for Safety: Working in partnership to address real-world transportation problems




Driverless cars, vehicle sensors and actuators, real-time navigation assistance integrated into social networking…these are all technologies being developed to make transportation safer and more efficient. And while the process of creating these technologies is important, innovations like these can only come about when researchers talk to government and industry to know the real-world transportation problems and issues that are being faced.

As one of five national university transportation centers funded by the United States Department of Transportation, Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation Center, the National University Transportation Center for Safety—a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pennsylvania—is creating opportunities for these innovators, regulators and users to collaborate.

On March 30 and 31, 2016, T-SET UTC hosted the second annual Safety Summit of USDOT University Transportation Centers - a summit of 9 university transportation centers for safety that represented over 50 universities across the country. The two-day event was hosted in Washington, DC at the Capitol Skyline hotel.

The USDOT Acting Undersecretary, Carlos Monje, provided the keynote while a VIP panel focused on the Role of Safety-Themed UTCs in the Future of Mobility. On the panel where Nathaniel Beuse, Associate Administrator, Vehicle Safety Research National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Michael Trentacoste, Associate Administrator for Research Development and Technology; and Vinn White, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of the Secretary of Transportation.

Panel sessions gave representatives from government, industry associations and the community a chance to voice their priorities regarding transportation safety. Speaking about these issues from a government perspective, along with Acting Under Secretary Carlos Monje, were representatives from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Highways and Transit Subcommittee.

“The Safety Summit was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the activities and expertise at the safety related University Transportation Centers and how they potentially fit with government, industry and community safety priorities,” described Monique Evans, the director of safety research and development with the Federal Highway Administration.

Speaking on transportation safety priorities from the industry and community perspective were panel participants from the American Automobile Association (AAA), the American Trucking Association, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the League of American Bicyclists, and the Transportation Research Board.

University faculty then presented on their related research.

“T-SET UTC focuses on real-world problems. And the only way to do this is to partner with the real world,” explained Carnegie Mellon’s T-SET UTC Director Raj Rajkumar. “The summit gave researchers, government, and industry representatives this opportunity to have conversations in order to create new collaborate efforts to further transportation technology.”