UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Researchers showcase innovative transportation projects at international conference

– From smart cars to rail-like bus systems, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, will provide next week a glimpse of transit's future for participants at one of the world's largest gatherings of transportation experts.

The 12th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), to be held Nov. 6-10 in San Francisco, will bring together international researchers, industry professionals and government officials to present and observe advanced transportation technologies and deployment activities. The annual event has rotated throughout Europe, Asia and North America since it began in 1994.

This year, UC Berkeley is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Caltrans, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and several other governmental, industrial and academic institutions to present an Innovative Mobility Showcase of ITS technologies. At the showcase, held Nov. 6-9, visitors will be given a unique opportunity to experience live vehicle demonstrations - including "ride and drives" - staged in the parking lots of San Francisco's SBC Park and on some city streets.

Some of the projects presented by California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH), a multidisciplinary program administered by UC Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies in collaboration with Caltrans, will include:

  • Vehicle-Infrastructure Integration (VII) Technology - See how smart roads with roadside antennas wirelessly communicate information from the 511/TravInfo system to cars equipped with on-board units. This communication network provides information about travel times and about warnings and locations of work zones or traffic incidents to the driver.

  • Integrated Collision Warning System - Conference attendees traveling from the Moscone Center to the SBC Park demonstration site will have a chance to ride in a San Mateo County Transit bus fitted with a front and side collision warning system designed for use on both highways and in dense urban environments.

  • Automated Bus Rapid Transit Technology - Buses subjected to unpredictable traffic can wreak havoc on schedules, but what if they operated more like a rail system? To get a sense of what that would be like, hop on 40-foot buses instrumented with sensors, actuators and computer-based processors that allow the vehicles to perform automated lane maneuvers and to dock precisely, millimeters away from the boarding platforms at bus stops. The buses will travel on an oval track within the SBC Park parking lot.

  • Smart Intersection - As many as 1.3 million crashes per year occur at intersections, with over a quarter of them due to an unsafe left turn into oncoming traffic. This demonstration will show how radar, GPS and sensors can work together to track the position of vehicles approaching an intersection and activate warning signs. A "no left turn" signal will flash if the system judges the gap between a left-turning vehicle and oncoming traffic to be too small.

The Innovative Mobility Showcase is "the first time we've brought together so many of our projects in one place for the purpose of demonstrating them to the public," said Alexander Skabardonis, UC Berkeley adjunct professor of civil engineering and director of PATH. "More than 30 projects from a variety of agencies will be demonstrated, so it's a wonderful opportunity for people to get an early look at the potential future of transportation."

Also coinciding with the World Congress on ITS is the expansion of the travel time message system on freeways. Two changeable message signs located on Interstate 80 in Berkeley have been running since May as a pilot program, giving drivers an estimate of how long it will take them to reach common destinations, such as downtown San Francisco or the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge.

The project, developed by the California Center for Innovative Transportation at UC Berkeley in conjunction with Caltrans and MTC, is expanding this week to 16 new signs along Interstate 80, Highway 101, Interstate 580 and Interstate 880 in such cities as Fairfield, Pinole, San Francisco, Burlingame and East Palo Alto. The travel times displayed rely on data obtained from the Bay Area's 511/TravInfo system.

The researchers will continue to evaluate the public reaction to the signs. Depending upon the response, the system may be expanded to most of the Bay Area by mid-2006.

For more information about the 12th World Congress on ITS, go to: http://www.itsworldcongress.org.