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Using cameras on transit buses to monitor traffic conditions



Newswise — COLUMBUS, Ohio – Researchers have proposed a novel method for counting and tracking vehicles on public roads, a development that could enhance current traffic systems and help travelers get to their destinations faster. 

Using the cameras already installed on campus buses at The Ohio State University, researchers demonstrated that they could automatically and accurately measure counts of vehicles on urban roadways, could detect objects in the road, and could distinguish parked vehicles from those that are moving. 

In previous studies, Ohio State researchers found that using these mobile cameras provides much better spatial and temporal coverage than relying on sparsely and often temporarily placed sensors that don’t provide a view of many streets and roads in a city. 

“If we collect and process more comprehensive high-resolution spatial information about what’s happening on the roads, then planners could better understand changes in demand, effectively improving efficiency in the broader transportation system,” said Keith Redmill, lead author of the study and a research associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State.

Whereas researchers previously used human observers to manually identify the vehicles in the videos, this study, published in the journal Sensors, automates the process using AI.  

According to co-authors of the study Mark McCord and Rabi Mishalani, both professors of civil, environmental and geodetic engineering at Ohio State, their team chose to utilize the traffic cameras on the Campus Area Bus Service partly because Ohio State’s large, interconnected campus resembles a small city and their relationship with CABS operators gave them ready access to the collected videos. 


“Sharing access to our bus cameras for traffic monitoring is a great example of how university operations can support research and learning,” said Tom Holman, Ohio State’s director of Transportation and Traffic Management. “We are happy to share existing resources that can generate helpful data for long-term traffic planning purposes on campus and beyond.”

But what sets this study apart from similar traffic-related studies is that it utilizes available resources at no extra cost: bus cameras that have already been installed for other safety and security purposes. This allows it to be easily integrated into how other cities manage their traffic monitoring, said Mishalani. 

“If we can measure traffic in a way that is as good or better than what is conventionally done with fixed sensors, then we will have created something incredibly useful extremely cheaply,” he said. “Our goal is to start building a system that could do this without much manual intervention because if you want to collect this information over lots of potential vehicles and lots of time, it’s worth fully automating that process.” 

The system works by utilizing a state-of-the-art 2D deep learning model called YOLOv4 to automatically detect and track objects. The program is also uniquely adept at recognizing multiple objects in a single image frame, said Redmill. 

While still a long way from total implementation, the study suggests the system’s results bear promise for the future of intelligent traffic surveillance. For example, besides counting vehicles, their algorithm is also able to project real-world bird’s-eye-view coordinates of the road network by taking advantage of streams of images, GNSS measurements, and regional information from 2D maps. It’s so precise, the system was also able to detect if the bus veered off from its planned route – and then report it to a map database that logs detailed information about the roadways, said Redmill, who is also a member of Ohio State’s Control and Intelligent Transportations Research Lab (CITR).

With widespread deployment and integration of their proposed approach, the vast collection and complete automation of processing of this data over time would allow for more effective planning, designing and operation of roadways to mitigate heavy traffic across the country.

As for the benefits the public might see, such advancements in traffic surveillance could mean reduced travel times and greater travel choices when trying to get from point A to point B. 


“Transportation planners, engineers and operators make vital decisions about the future of our roadways, so when designing transportation systems to work over the next 30 to 50 years, it’s imperative that we give them data that allows them to improve the efficiency of the system and the level of service provided to travelers,” said Mishalani.

The research was supported by the United States Department of Transportation’s Mobility21 University Transportation Center program. Other co-authors are Ekim Yurtsever and Benjamin Coifman, both of Ohio State.

Journal Link: SensorsREQUEST AN EXPERT

Source: Ohio State University

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C-Crete Technologies Awarded $2 Million by the US Department of Energy to Supercharge its Cement-Free Carbon-Negative Concrete Product

Addition of CO2 as a diluted gas from industrial waste sources or the air would turn C-Crete’s concrete into a carbon-negative building material



SAN LEANDRO, Calif. /PRNewswire/ — C-Crete Technologies is developing a method for using carbon dioxide captured at industrial sources or from the air as an ingredient in its cement-free concrete, in work accelerated by a $2 million funding from the US Department of Energy.

The DOE funding will help propel C-Crete’s already eco-friendly product into the exceptional category of carbon-negative building materials, possibly the first pourable, ready-mix concrete product to achieve this longtime goal of the industry.

Our pourable cement-free carbon-negative concrete not only mitigates carbon emissions but helps reversing climate change

Around 80 tons of C-Crete’s cement-free concrete was recently poured in the foundations, shear walls and floor slab of a commercial building and more projects are underway.

The CO2 incorporated into the product – whether captured from the air as the concrete cures or from industrial point sources – could be used in a diluted form, eliminating the costly step of separating it from other gases. Once mineralized in the concrete, the diluted CO2 would make the new material stronger, tougher and more durable than conventional concrete.

At the core of C-Crete’s innovation lies its patented high-performance, cement-free binder technology that uses different local materials as feedstocks. C-Crete’s binder produces almost no CO2 in its manufacturing and continues to absorb it from the air over time. Its scalability and cost-parity with conventional cement make it a viable alternative to ordinary Portland cement – a notorious contributor to global CO2 emissions.

The DOE’s support for C-Crete’s work underscores the profound impact that innovative approaches can have in the battle against carbon emissions.

“We are committed to crafting a cement-free, ready-mix, carbon-negative concrete that doesn’t just mitigate carbon emissions but actively contributes to reversing climate change,” says Rouzbeh Savary, Ph.D., founder and president of C-Crete Technologies. “Our aim is nothing short of revolutionizing this hard-to-abate, carbon-heavy sector of the construction industry.”

“Concrete is one of the most difficult materials to address within the construction industry because the way it is used often precludes other sustainable strategies such as re-use and effective recycling,” says Stuart Macalister, technical design lead at Heatherwick Studio, an international award-winning architecture firm based in London. “C-Crete are pioneering significant reductions in the embodied carbon of concrete and their continued research into alternative techniques to avoid over dependence upon a single material source, is both savvy and inspiring.

“C-Crete’s sequestration of CO2 into cast-in-place concrete is another aspect with huge potential. The consensus amongst climate scientists is that even if we do everything else right to reduce emissions, the world still needs to remove gigantic amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. Direct-air capture of CO2 is very expensive currently, so other methods, such as those being developed by C-Crete, are vitally important,” says Macalister.


“We need to do testing to get the use of next-generation materials like C-Crete’s right, and that requires early adopter field trials,” says Donald Davies, a developer and structural engineer with 33 years in the business, whose building in Seattle was the site of C-Crete’s first commercial pour. “It’s exciting to be a part of helping C-Crete on this important next step forward.” Davies is also chair of Building Transparency, a nonprofit dedicated to enabling the building industry to address embodied carbon’s role in climate change.

About: C-Crete Technologies is a leading materials science company committed to inventing, building and scaling up the next generation of infrastructure materials with ultra-low or negative CO2 footprints. With a relentless focus on environmental stewardship and technological innovation, C-Crete aims to address the global challenges of climate change while delivering superior infrastructure materials at scale.

SOURCE C-Crete Technologies

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The Flawed Perspective on High-Speed Rail in the United States

High-speed rail: Overcoming obstacles, embracing benefits



High speed train in motion at the railway station.

In a recent article titled “Why High-Speed Bullet Trains Won’t Work in the U.S. Right Now,” published in Scientific American, the author presents a pessimistic view on the feasibility of high-speed rail in the United States. While the article highlights the need for significant infrastructure upgrades, it fails to acknowledge the potential benefits and long-term value of investing in high-speed rail. This article aims to address the flaws in the argument presented and shed light on the importance of embracing high-speed rail as a transformative transportation solution.

Outdated Infrastructure and its Implications:

The article correctly points out that the existing rail infrastructure in the United States is not designed to handle high-speed trains. The tracks, bridges, tunnels, and power lines were built over a century ago for slower commuter and freight services. However, this observation overlooks the fact that high-speed rail requires dedicated tracks designed for faster speeds, similar to those found in many European and Asian countries.

The Need for Investment and Modernization:

To bring high-speed rail to the United States, significant investments are required to upgrade the aging infrastructure. President Joe Biden has recognized the importance of high-speed rail and has included it as one of the key initiatives to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. While the article highlights the financial challenges involved, it fails to acknowledge the long-term environmental and economic benefits that high-speed rail can bring.

Obstacles to Overcome:

The article outlines four key obstacles that complicate the implementation of high-speed rail in the United States. These include the need for track improvements, adherence to Buy America policies, a lack of domestic rail industry, and the need for adequate funding. While these challenges are indeed significant, they should not discourage the pursuit of high-speed rail. Instead, they should serve as opportunities to address and overcome these obstacles collectively.

Benefits of High-Speed Rail:


High-speed rail offers numerous advantages that can revolutionize transportation in the United States. It provides a greener alternative to driving and flying, reducing carbon emissions and alleviating congestion on highways and in airports. Additionally, high-speed rail enhances accessibility, connecting cities and regions more efficiently, boosting tourism, and stimulating economic growth along the rail corridors.

The Path Forward:

Despite the current limitations, progress is being made in bringing high-speed rail to the United States. Amtrak has plans to introduce new high-speed rail cars on the Northeast Corridor, albeit with speed restrictions due to the outdated infrastructure. The expansion of tracks capable of accommodating high-speed trains is also underway, with a goal of reaching speeds up to 160 mph on 100 additional miles of track in the next 12 years.

While the Scientific American article highlights the challenges and limitations associated with implementing high-speed rail in the United States, it fails to recognize its transformative potential and the long-term benefits it can bring. While significant investments and infrastructure upgrades are necessary, embracing high-speed rail presents an opportunity to revolutionize transportation, reduce carbon emissions, enhance connectivity, and spur economic development. By acknowledging the importance of high-speed rail and working collectively to overcome the obstacles, the United States can pave the way for a more sustainable and efficient transportation future.

Read the artuicle: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-high-speed-bullet-trains-wont-work-in-the-u-s-right-now/


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Give feedback on proposed transit option for West Phoenix

Residents asked to weigh in on proposed transit type and route for West Phoenix. Public meetings held virtually on Sep. 21 and in person Sept. 27



Image Credit: Valley Metro

Phoenix – Valley Metro and the city of Phoenix are seeking community feedback on the recommendation for the West Phoenix High-Capacity Transit Alternatives Analysis. The comprehensive study, initiated in fall 2022, seeks to identify a high-capacity transit option for West Phoenix residents.

The project team will host two public meetings and have an open public comment period to gather input on the recommended transit route and mode for West Phoenix, noted below. 

Meetings will be held on the following dates:

Thursday, September 21, 2023 (virtual)
6 p.m.
Join online at valley-metro.webex.com

Wednesday, September 27, 2023 (in person)
6-8 p.m.
Desert West Community Center
6501 W. Virginia Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85035

The recommendation is for light rail transit on the route highlighted below:

Both meetings will provide identical presentation materials and be available in English and Spanish. View digital flyer with more information here.

Presentation materials along with a public comment form to submit feedback will be available on the project website through October 6, 2023.

Source: Valley Metro



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