Driverless Car Demonstrates the Power of the University Transportation Center (UTC) Program

by Mark Vieth, Senior Vice President, CRD Associates

Today I had the good fortune of witnessing the future of automobile transportation:  the “driverless” car, also known as an “autonomous vehicle.”  Quite literally, it is a car that drives itself, and includes sophisticated technologies that keep the car at a safe pace in traffic and prevent accidents from happening. 

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) brought this vehicle to the U.S. Capitol today for a press conference with House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Undersecretary of Transportation for Policy Peter Rogoff, and National Science Foundation (NSF) Deputy Director Cora Marrett.  The event gave Members of Congress an opportunity to take a “test drive” from the backseat of the vehicle around the perimeter of the Capitol Grounds and around the nation’s Capitol.

“Autonomous vehicles and other emerging technologies have significant potential to increase transportation safety and efficiency,” Chairman Shuster said in a press release.  “The future of transportation is coming quickly, and it’s important to provide policymakers with opportunities to gain a better understanding of these kinds of innovations. “

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CMU’s driverless vehicle was developed in part through grants from the University Transportation Center (UTC) program from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the NSF.  The project is led by Raj Rajkumar, the Director of the Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation (T-SET) UTC at CMU.

The $72.5 million UTC program is funded through the multi-year surface transportation legislation, known as MAP-21, which must be reauthorized or extended before the end of the fiscal year.  The autonomous vehicle technology developed by CMU is just one of many examples of the great research that is being conducted by the universities participating in the UTC program.  CRD Associates is proud to represent a coalition of these universities, known as the Research Education and Training Reauthorization Coalition (RETRC), and we congratulate CMU for holding a highly successful demonstration of their technology!

Lisa Ellington

Big Thinkery, LLC, 1011 Kenilworth Court Northwest, Concord, NC, 28027