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Ford, MIT Join to Improve Transportation Services

Photonics.com
Aug 2016
DEARBORN, Mich., Aug. 1, 2016 — Ford Motor Co. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are collaborating on a new research project that measures how pedestrians move in urban areas to improve certain public transportation services, such as ride-hailing and point-to-point shuttle services.

Ford Motor Company and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are collaborating on a new research project that measures how pedestrians move in urban areas to improve certain public transportation services, such as ride-hailing and point-to-point shuttles services.
Ford Motor Co. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are collaborating on a new research project that measures how pedestrians move in urban areas to improve certain public transportation services, such as ride-hailing and point-to-point shuttle services. Wally Wibowo (left) and Justin Miller in front of MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department's Neumann Hangar. Courtesy of Business Wire.

The project will introduce a fleet of on-demand electric vehicle shuttles that operate on both city roads and campus walkways on the university’s campus in Cambridge, Mass. The vehicles use lidar sensors and cameras to measure pedestrian flow, which ultimately helps predict demand for the shuttles. This will help researchers and drivers route shuttles toward areas with the highest demand to better accommodate riders. The research is being conducted at MIT’s Aerospace Controls Lab (ACL).

“The on-board sensors and cameras gather pedestrian data to estimate the flow of foot traffic,” said Ken Washington, vice president of research and advanced engineering at Ford. “This helps us develop efficient algorithms that bring together relevant data. It improves mobility-on-demand services and aids ongoing pedestrian detection and mapping efforts for autonomous vehicle research.”

"Through the mobility-on-demand system being developed for MIT's campus, ACL can investigate new planning and prediction algorithms in a complex, but controlled, environment, while simultaneously providing a testbed framework for researchers and a service to the MIT community," said professor Jonathan How, ACL director.

Ford and MIT researchers plan to introduce the service to a group of students and faculty beginning in September.


GLOSSARY
lidar
An acronym of light detection and ranging, describing systems that use a light beam in place of conventional microwave beams for atmospheric monitoring, tracking and detection functions. Ladar, an acronym of laser detection and ranging, uses laser light for detection of speed, altitude, direction and range; it is often called laser radar.
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