Riders Get on the V2I Bus with Smart Stop App

Burney Simpson

A public-transit oriented smart phone application using V2I (Vehicle-To-Infrastructure) communications was tested successfully at the ITS-America 2016 conference in San Jose, setting the stage for further development.

The “Smart Stop” app uses Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) Wi-Fi technology to allow waiting bus passengers and buses to communicate with each other.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) teamed up with Smart Stop developers Renesas Electronics America Inc. and eTrans Systems to test the app through three different demonstrations with 40-foot buses.

“The test went very well,” said Gary Miskell, chief information officer for the Authority. “This was the proof of concept. Now that we passed we can get funding (and move forward) on real development.”

The waiting passenger uses her smart phone or a kiosk touch screen to send a stop request with the Smart Stop app. That stop request informs the Santa Clara system she is at a specific stop waiting for a specific bus.

The stop request goes to a Road Side Unit that transmits it to the bus on-board unit which generates an audible and visual alert to the driver.

Smart Stop will notify the passenger through her smartphone or kiosk that the bus is approaching her stop.

For connected vehicle proponents the success of the test shows that DSRC can be used to make roads safer and more efficient. Smart Stop is an example of V2I technology that connects a fleet system with infrastructure (the Road Side Unit) by using Wi-Fi communications.

That’s great for the techies, but Miskell is looking to Smart Stop as something that can help him solve a day-to-day problem.

“Sometimes drivers don’t see the waiting person. But a stop request makes the driver stop,” he said.


That gives passengers a greater sense of control, which all transit riders appreciate, but it is “especially important for those with disabilities,” said Miskell.

That suggests that the app’s capabilities might be expanded to better serve passengers with special needs, such as those in wheel chairs and those with bikes.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, cautions Miskell.

In the near term he’d like to conduct a test of Smart Stop on select VTA routes with a limited number of passengers.

“We’ll get some customer feedback, track usage, and take it to the steering committee,” said Miskell.

If they like it, the VTA could put more funding behind the technology. And that’s when you get DSRC V2I technology solving day to day problems.

eTrans Systems To Demonstrate Connected Vehicle Solutions at ITS America [Sponsored Content]

Live demonstrations of connected and automated vehicle apps will be conducted by rising software developer eTrans Systems at the ITS America Show in San Jose this month.

ETrans will demonstrate its solutions with Renesas, a global supplier of technology to the automotive industry, and with the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority (VTA).

The ITS America 2016 show runs at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center June 12-16 with the demos scheduled for June 13-15.

The eTrans, Renesas demo features a series of V2V (Vehicle-to-Vehicle) and V2I (Vehicle-to-Infrastructure) applications including:

  • V2V Collision Avoidance
  • V2I Traffic Light Interaction
  • V2V Automated Processing where a camera will detect vehicles and eTrans applications will generate Basic Safety Messages on their behalf.

With the VTA, eTrans will demonstrate the SmartStop application which allows customers to use their smartphones to request a bus and notifies the bus driver of the request. The VTA expects the system to substantially improve service to its customers and eliminate unnecessary stops, leading to reduced fuel consumption.

Visitors to eTrans in booth #436 will see a demonstration of:

  • The Omnisight system viewer showcasing all the demos near the convention center;
  • Insight, the eTrans application for monitoring individual DSRC systems;
  • The Pedestrian detection app that ‘sees’ pedestrians in crosswalks and other specified areas. The app can control nearby traffic lights and use DSRC to send messages to drivers, notifying them of the pedestrian.

The eTrans booth also features VSDP, the revolutionary V2x Software Development Platform that provides all the necessary tools for the rapid development, testing and maintenance of cutting-edge V2x and DSRC solutions. It features robust functionality for DSRC messaging, input data generation, simulation and resulting data analysis.

VSDP allows for applications to be coded once for a variety of hardware platforms including Renesas, Cohda and Arada/Lear. Additionally, VSDP includes an integrated test environment that easily permits testing in the lab, over the air and on the road. This allows for rapid turnaround of system changes. A variety of display options means quick insight into what is happening within your application.

“With VSDP, companies can cut down their development and test time by over 50 percent, thus enjoying faster time to market and lower costs,” said Robert Baily, eTrans CTO.

About eTrans Systems:

Driverless cars, connected vehicles and other technologies are revolutionizing transportation. The driving factor making this happen is secure connected software. eTrans Systems specializes in the development of secure connected vehicle systems. The founders of eTrans each have over twenty years of experience in software solutions, software development and testing.



V2I Coalition Update Webinar

The Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) Coalition will hold a free webinar 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. Eastern time this Thursday to update attendees on progress since the June 4-5 meeting in Pittsburgh. Since then the Coalition has named an executive committee and the five technical Working Groups have held meetings.

The V2I Coalition is made up of members from both the infrastructure and automotive communities. It was formed by American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America).

Visit this ITS America page to register for the webinar.

ITS World 2015 Challenges US Lead in Driverless Vehicles

Burney Simpson

There have been stories recently about Silicon Valley vs. Detroit battling for autonomous vehicle development dominance.

Guys, while you’re busy fighting, the rest of the world just may pass you.

The ITS World Congress held in Bordeaux, France, this week generated a slew of news about the driverless programs going on in Asia and Europe. One grabber was the fully-driverless 360-mile trip (580 kilometers) from Paris to Bordeaux in a Peugeot Citroen.

Volvo announced it would begin on-road testing in 2107 of its IntelliSafe Auto Pilot system. Drivers will use a push-button system on their XC90 steering wheel to switch to automated driving mode when they are traveling on sections of Swedish roads designated for driverless operations. Tests will be conducted on 30 miles of roads around Volvo’s headquarter city of Gothenburg.

Meanwhile, Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson traveled to Washington, D.C. to warn the feds they need to set national rules around the testing and development of driverless vehicles.

“The U.S. risks losing its leading position (in autonomous driving) due to the lack of federal guidelines for the testing and certification of autonomous vehicles,” Samuelsson said in a press release. “Europe has suffered to some extent by having a patchwork of rules and regulations. It would be a shame if the U.S. took a similar path to Europe in this crucial area.”

(Thanks for the thought, Mr. Samuelsson. Capitol Hill will get to it. First they have to pass extension 3,000 of the Highway Trust Fund. Then they need to investigate whether the next Speaker of the House is having an affair. We’re busy over here.)

Several thousand miles east of Gothenburg a Chinese transportation official said his country would invest $30 billion in its intelligent transportation system through 2020. A spending pledge from a bureaucrat may be wishful thinking but it indicates China is alert to the international attention shown to driverless technology. Besides this is the country with a driverless bus going 20 miles through a cityscape.

And then there are the Japanese. This week Toyota announced that it would offer in Japan this year three models equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication capability. Toyota also pledged to bring cars to market by 2020 that the driver could put in autonomous auto-pilot mode so the vehicle could independently change lanes, merge with traffic, and pass other cars.

Also in the Land of the Rising Sun, the coastal city of Fujisawa will next year see a driverless taxi test provided by Robot Taxi (site is in Japanese). Plans call for the cabs to take about 50 participating residents on local shopping excursions of about 3 kilometers, The Guardian reports. The test is in preparation for the 2020 Olympics which will be hosted just down the road in Tokyo.

Granted, similar products and concepts are going on in the U.S. And granted, some of this is savvy marketers who are just as smart as Americans when it comes to grabbing headlines.

For that matter, the competition between Detroit and California is driving tech advances and helping to make the U.S. the place to be when it comes to driverless research and development.

But fighting in your own backyard only gets you so far. Let’s hope we don’t see a repeat of the 1960s-1970s when Japan ate Detroit’s lunch.


Photo—Elliott Brown, World Cup Flags, 2010.

ITS California Buzzes on DOT Grants, Autonomous Levels Concept

John Estrada

The annual meeting of ITS California was held last week in Southern California.  The major buzz at the show was the previous week’s announcement by the US DOT that initial winners in grants for next-generation V2V and V2I technology were proposals from New York, Florida and Wyoming.  Many of the participants at the show felt very strongly that an award should have gone to California. It will be interesting to see what if any of those winning projects get off the ground.

There were quite a few interesting speakers at the show.  A couple of highlights included:

Greg Larson from CalTrans who led a panel that considered whether bus and truck automation should come before auto automation. Greg presented a chart from Richard Bishop of Bishop Consulting that showed the various levels of automation leading to autonomous cars as described by the SAE. Rather than a detailed description of what makes a vehicle fit into various levels, Richard describes it as follows:

  • Level 0: hands and feet ON;
  • Level 1: hands or feet OFF;
  • Level 2: hands and feet OFF, eyes ON;
  • Level 3: hands, feet, eyes OFF, brain on;
  • Level 4: hands, feet, eyes, brain OFF – Constrained environments;
  • Level 5: hands, feet, eyes, brain OFF – Unconstrained.
This seems like a great way to both remember and understand them.
Other interesting presentations included Aravind Kailas of Volvo who discussed truck automation and the future of mobility. He made a strong case as to why we are headed toward a world of shared mobility.
There was also an interesting panel on cybersecurity that gave the audience a true sense of the diversity and depth of the issue. Ed Fok from US DOT showed how easy it is easy to block off Internet access while Dominic Nessi of the LA Airport discussed cybersecurity challenges at a large, international airport. Gary Miskell from the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority discussed the issues facing transit authorities and the challenges of securing a mobile fleet of public buses.

There were also a series of demonstrations of connected vehicle technologies from eTrans Systems, Econolite, Bosch and Arada Systems.

This was our second year at the show and in that short time it was clear how quickly technology is advancing in the work of Intelligent Transportation.

ITS-California Show Covers Connected Vehicles, Urban Planning

Burney Simpson

The likely massive changes wrought by autonomous technology on community design and planning, along with the growth of connected vehicle technology are two of the major themes at the Intelligent Transportation Society – California (ITS-CA) Annual Conference and Exhibition in Los Angles at the LAX Airport Hilton on September 21 -23.

And Google will provide an update on its self-driving car project.

Urban planners and transportations experts are increasingly looking at the changes that may be wrought by autonomous technology and intelligent transportation systems. At the ITS-CA, panelists will cover such topics as achieving smart cities, building sustainable communities, re-imagining urban throughways, and integrated corridor management.

On the connected vehicle side, seminars will address the likelihood that such vehicles as buses and trucks, not cars, will be the leaders as the nation adopts automated and driverless vehicles.

Just this month U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that New York City, Tampa, Fla., and the state of Wyoming will receive up to $42 million as part of the agency’s national Connected Vehicle Pilot deployment program.

Projects in the program are intended to advance the adoption of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication, with the goal of reducing traffic congestion, cutting accidents, and moving freight more efficiently.

Speakers at ITS-CA include leading government executives in the autonomous vehicle industry, including California Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty, US DOT Assistant Director of Research and Technology Greg Winfree, and Peter Marx, chief innovation technology officer of the City of Los Angeles.

Also speaking will be Paul Copping, smart city advisor with Digital Greenwich, and Paul Feenstra, SVP, government affairs with ITS America.

And Dmitri Dolgov, Google’s principal engineer and software lead, will present on his firms view of driverless cars and the future of mobility.

Qualcomm and Honda, Oregon, Utah DOTs Honored for Best of 2015 ITS Projects

Burney Simpson

Qualcomm and Honda, along with the Oregon and Utah departments of transportation, were named recipients of the Best of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Awards, ITS America announced this week at its 25th Annual Meeting & Exposition in Pittsburgh.

Qualcomm and Honda teamed to develop, test and successfully demonstrate dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) technology that allowed vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) communication. The smartphone app determines whether a pedestrian is in danger of being hit by the vehicle, and sends warnings to both the driver and the pedestrian.

The awards honor organizations in the high-tech transportation industry for projects that demonstrated “specific and measurable outcomes and exemplified innovation by establishing a “new dimension” of performance,” according to ITS America.

The Oregon Department of Transportation’s “OR 217 Active Traffic Management,” project was honored for Best New Innovative Products, Services, or Applications. This pdf describes the OR 217 ATM.

ITS also presents awards in four categories under the Best New Innovative Practices banner — sustainability in transportation; partnership deployment (business-to-business, government-to-government, or public/private); research, design and innovation; and rural ITS.

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and Honda R&D Americas, Inc. won the Research, Design and Innovation award for “Honda and Qualcomm DSRC-based-Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P) and Other Vulnerable Road User Safety Project.

The Sustainability and Transportation award honored the Utah Department of Transportation’s “Winter Road Weather Index” project. See pdf of UDOT 2014 Annual Efficiencies Report for WRWI.

Cubic Transportation Systems and the Chicago Transit Authority took the Partnership Deployment award for its “Chicago Transit Authority Ventra Update: Open and Loving It” bankcard payment system.

The Rural ITS Project award will be presented at the National Rural ITS (NRITS) Conference in Snowbird, Utah, August 9-12.

“These awards recognize the leading transportation innovators who’ve effectively demonstrated a dedication to advancing ITS through innovative projects,” Regina Hopper, president and CEO of ITS America, said in a press release.

Google’s Urmson Impresses at ITS America 2015

John Estrada

Yesterday was the first full day of the ITS America 25th Annual Meeting & Expo.

The show’s opening keynote speaker was Chris Urmson, Google’s director of self-driving cars. We’ve heard Google speak about their autonomous car program quite a few times over the past 18 months. What is most exciting is that each time it is clear that they have moved forward and are continuing to make significant progress.

This time the biggest differences were around the “view” that the driverless car has of its surroundings and how the vehicle reacts to what it “sees”. Urmson had an interesting clip of a woman in a wheelchair chasing a duck on the road and the vehicle having to figure out what to do with that. It seemed to handle it just fine.

Chris stated that the goal of the Google team is to have vehicles on the road in less than 4 years … just in time so his oldest son won’t need to get a driver’s license. That doesn’t seem unrealistic considering the pace that Google has been moving on this.

The show opened Monday with the introduction of Regina Hopper as the new president and CEO of ITS America. Ms. Hopper is quite impressive, seems to have great experience, and looks to be an excellent choice for this challenging role. This was especially true considering she has only been on the job for about two weeks.

ITS America moved the show to Pittsburgh this year from Detroit, and it’s interesting to compare the two cities. Both are excellent choices for a show dedicated to innovative transportation technologies. And both are large Rust Belt cities that have gone through some tough periods.

In Detroit, the revitalization is just beginning and it is clear that there is a long way to go but there is an optimism and can-do spirit that leads you to believe that, someday, it will be successful.

Pittsburgh has that same optimism and spirit but it is much further along in its revitalization. The view of the city as you come out of the tunnel from the airport is just stunning and it is clear that the city has come a long way.

Overall the show is well attended and it offers a good mix of ITS topics and presentations. There was a lot more focus at this show on DSRC and connected vehicles than we’ve seen at previous shows. This is a technology that is also advancing very rapidly.

Looking forward to seeing how much progress there will be by the next show.

ITS America’s 25th Annual Meet Convenes Next Week

Burney Simpson

One of the biggest autonomous technology shows of the year begins next Monday when the 25th Annual Meeting & Expo of Intelligent Transportation Systems opens on June 1 in Pittsburgh at the David Lawrence Convention Center.

The Bridges to Innovation show runs from June 1-3 and will draw about 2,000 technology and transportation executives, researchers, engineers, and investors to do business, catch up, and take in the 250 presentations across 60 workshops and sessions.

Topics covered include connected and automated vehicles, security, funding, shared mobility and transit, commercial vehicle and freight logistics, mobile applications, safety, and transportation systems operations. A pdf of the program can be downloaded here.

And folks going to the show just might see one of the autonomous cars that Uber is testing around Pittsburgh.

Many attendees will be from the ITS’ 27 state chapters across 40 states and their 1,200 member organizations, and the more than 450 public agencies, companies, and research institutions that are members of the organization. ITS Pennsylvania is the cohost of the meeting & expo.

On June 1, the opening keynote will be given by Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving cars program, and a one-time faculty member of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh.


The winners of the Best of ITS Awards will be named during the opening plenary session on June 1 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Winners will be named in Best New Innovative Product, Service or Innovation; Best New Innovative Practice – Partnership Deployment; Best New Innovative Practice – Research, Design and Innovation; Best New Innovative Practice – Sustainability in Transportation.

Attendees also have the opportunity to visit some of the driverless-related centers in the Pittsburgh area, including a connected vehicle test bed and the PennDOT regional transportation management center, and to take a bicycle tour of Pittsburgh.

A visit to the CMU Autonomous Vehicle Demonstration is sold out.

CMU’s influence runs throughout the meeting and expo. The closing keynote will be delivered by David Plouffe, a one-time aide to President Barack Obama who is now a senior vice president of strategy with Uber Technologies. Uber in February announced a partnership with CMU and the creation of the Uber Advanced Technologies Center near the school’s campus.


The exhibition hall opens at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, June 1, at the Convention Center. There are more than 125 exhibitors including – Activu, Bosch Security Systems, Eberle Design, Florida’s Automated Vehicles Initiative, Harbrick, Iteris, Siemens, Southwest Research Institute, Thales, Transportation Research Board, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, and Xerox.

Many attendees will be arriving early on Sunday, May 31, to participate in meetings of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). In addition, state departments of transportation from around the country will hold a roundtable from 4 – 6 p.m. to discuss funding issues, deployment strategies, and the efficient use of technology.

Photo of Pittsburgh by Allie Caulfield, 2008.