U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of the Secretary
Small Business Innovation Research Program
VII. Research Topics
*Multi-modal topics are highlighted in green and marked with an asterisk.
Phase I research topics for DOT Operating Administrations are listed below. These topics indicate the specific areas for which proposals are to be considered for acceptance by DOT. The topics are not listed in any order of priority. Each proposal must respond to one (and only one) topic as described in this section. A proposal may, however, indicate and describe its relevance to other topics.
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
Several adaptive control systems for signalized intersection networks have been developed, tested, and deployed. The well known systems include the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS), the Split Cycle Offset Optimization Technique (SCOOT), the adaptive control software-ACS, and the ACS lite – a scaled down version of ACS for arterial traffic management in small to medium communities. These systems monitor traffic in real time and adjust signal timings based on optimization of traffic delay, travel time, and percent stopped vehicles, etc.
The above systems have documented results in increasing traffic flow speed, reducing stoppage and delay, and increasing intersection throughputs. The algorithms implemented so far are designed to improve efficiency of traffic operations. Nevertheless, network safety of different weighting scales with traffic operations have not been explicitly factored into the decision making process.
This research should identify unsafe traffic conditions in arterial and grid network settings that are likely to cause crashes, and develop algorithms to alleviate such risks using safer adjustments of signal cycles, offsets, phase splits, yellow and clearance intervals, and extension times. These adjustments could be focused or throughout the network. The research should explore and develop means to evaluate network safety and weight costs of potential crashes and delays, and develop algorithms that produces real time network signal timing plans based on optimization of both safety and mobility performances. The contractor would be expected to develop a software that is marketable to all interested parties, State and local governments.
Phase I: To develop a methodology and a work plan for implementation, conduct the analysis, produce the algorithms, and implement network analysis in traffic simulation.
Phase II: To implement the methodology on a limited network and evaluate its performance.
Relationship to FHWA Strategic Objectives:
Improve safety, reduce congestion on urban signalized surface streets, and enhance public travel experience.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a Federal Civil Rights Law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. On July 26, 1999, Secretary Rodney Slater issued a U.S. Department of Transportation Accessibility Policy to make accessibility a guiding principle in the development of transportation systems, including pedestrian networks. FHWA produced Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access: Part 2, Best Practices Design Guide, in 2001, to provide guidance on how to plan, design, and construct accessible pedestrian facilities. The Best Practices Design Guide also described an idea for a Sidewalk Assessment Process. FHWA issued a Memorandum entitled Clarification of FHWA's Oversight Role in Accessibility, in September 2006, calling for increased emphasis on accessible pedestrian facilities, and the requirement for public agencies to develop transition plans under the ADA. However, the lack of an efficient sidewalk assessment process is a significant barrier limiting the ability of localities to develop transition plans that can be used to provide accessible pedestrian facilities.
The 2004 Census indicates that almost 40 million people in the US have disabilities and 23.8 million of those have a physical disability with almost 7 million people using a personal mobility device, such as a wheelchair or scooter. Access to and use of public facilities within the community is essential to fully include and integrate people with disabilities into independent living, family activities, and society. Universally accessible pedestrian facilities benefit all users, and especially increase the independence of pedestrians with disabilities.
FHWA sponsored DTRS57-01-C-10013 (SBIR 00-FH9) to develop a sidewalk assessment process. The process under development at that time seemed to be too labor intensive and inefficient to be useable, and the contractor was not able to encourage enough localities to participate in a detailed study. With limited SBIR funding in 2002, the Phase 2 proposal did not compete highly enough.
Sensor and computer technology have advanced enough that it is probably now feasible to develop equipment to perform highly efficient sidewalk assessments. People who plan, design, construct, and maintain sidewalks need an efficient and cost effective method to measure elements within the pedestrian environment. A single trained operator should be able to collect and capture data directly into a database for layering into an appropriate Geographic Information System (GIS). Research is needed in Phase I to develop a high efficiency sidewalk assessment process to objectively evaluate the accessibility of sidewalks, curb ramps, bus stops, driveways, and other pedestrian elements. The target cost of this assessment device should be less than $10,000. It should be operable by one person, to limit staff time needed for assessments.
The following specifications need to be evaluated for access of pedestrian elements: grade, cross slope, obstructions, surface firmness and stability, and clearance widths. Guidelines need to be developed for evaluating sidewalk elements including curb ramps, driveway crossings, roadway medians and islands, bus stops, elevators, lifts, stairways, and sidewalk furniture. Phase I should develop a pedestrian friendly sensor system linked with a database to compile measurements which can be used by State and local transportation planners, engineers, and designers to establish priorities for the construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of pedestrian and roadway elements. The system should be able to assist as a tool for use during the construction process and for making compliance checks after construction. Information on sidewalk grades and other relevant pedestrian information should be made available for signage, mapping, or web accessible formats. The tool also would be useable for ongoing sidewalk system maintenance programs. Phase II should refine and test the system for reproducibility of information with standard manual assessment practices and shall create database software for seamless operation with existing GIS information systems. In addition, training materials should be developed and tested for use of the sensor measurement system with a seamless integration to preferred GIS information systems.
The results of this project will provide planners, engineers, and construction and maintenance crews with methods and tools to obtain objective information that can be used to:
- Create a standardized record of existing conditions.
- Monitor changes in conditions over time or from specific interventions.
- Enhance planning, budgeting, and forecasting for sidewalk costs.
- Identify and prioritize significant user access barriers or safety concerns.
- Enhance sidewalk maintenance and construction planning and activities.
- Educate visitors about the conditions they will encounter.
- Determine compliance with design specifications.
- Increase pedestrian access and safety to the community.
Relationship to FHWA Strategic Objectives:
This project promotes safety for all pedestrians while protecting and enhancing the human environment. Pedestrian safety is one of the three focus areas for FHWA’s strategic plan for highway safety. Increasing objective access information will enable planners, engineers, and construction and maintenance personnel to provide a safe pedestrian environment for all people, including those with mobility, vision, and/or cognitive impairments. Safe and accessible pedestrian systems may decrease pedestrian crashes. Increasing independent access within the community will have a positive impact on local economies. In addition, increasing the efficiency of sidewalk assessments will reduce costs.
A high efficiency sidewalk assessment process is necessary to more effectively gather data needed for other kinds of pedestrian studies.
Both the Executive Order 13112 of 1999 and the 2005 SAFETEA-LU calls for noxious weed control and/or invasive plant prevention. The issue of invasive plants costs the United States some $23 billion, annually. Studies now show transportation is a major vector for the spread of these weeds problems. Weeds are particularly spread through State Department of Transportation (DOT) construction and maintenance practices. It is widely agreed among federal agencies that the washing of equipment before movement of mowers, tractors, trucks, etc. to a new site could reduce highway agencies’ contribution to this problem significantly. Therefore we suggest that research by a small business could develop precisely the equipment needed to reduce the spread of weeds.
Relationship to FHWA Strategic Objectives:
Expeditiously cleaning either maintenance or construction equipment before equipment movement is essential. Time is money in both operations. Much of highway corridor work is done by outside contractors which complicates the process. Safety of accomplishing this work within the highway corridor is critical. On-site cleaning will be necessary in a fast-moving context. This application within highway corridors is unique. If we can do it, other land managers will be able to succeed in weed prevention also.
The product should be 1) efficient, 2) effective, and 3) affordable:
- The technology must not be time consuming on sit or at the show, so as to slow maintenance and/or construction work on highway corridors.
- The equipment should have been tested to a level of efficacy, to be determined, regarding maximum weed seed allowed after treatment. Before and after comparison testing should be done.
- Every State DOT District should be able to afford own version of this product.
Phase I Output: Review the literature. Review any related equipment for its efficacy and potential application in highway maintenance and construction work. The only similar research that might exist is in the Forest Service. If it were ready "for the road", it would not be ready for each of 50 States and all their District offices for both maintenance and construction application. Examine existing knowledge to determine application to State transportation departments.
Phase II Output: Examine market for commercialization for transportation (State, County, and Federal Lands), and other land-managing agencies at the State and Federal levels. Fine tune equipment and field test in different regions of the United States on highway projects and maintenance delivery.
The Motorcycle Travel Symposium held by FHWA and NHTSA has identified motorcycle detection, classification, and characterization as key to enhancing motorcycle safety, motorcycle operations and motorcycle travel estimation. In addition, the FHWA Motorcyclist Advisory Council (MAC-FHWA) ( http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/mac/ ) has been chartered to look at motorcycle ITS infrastructure issues. Motorcycle fatalities are currently estimated at 30 times those of auto fatalities per Vehicle Mile Traveled (VMT). The objective of this project is to develop an advanced sensor for these applications.
Creation of either new technologies or advanced versions of existing sensor technologies to detect motorcycles, classify them separately and accurately from other vehicles, and to identify different kinds of motorcycles such as: tricycles; heavy touring-class motorcycles; light motorcycles; motor scooters; mopeds; and bicycles is acceptable.
The objective of improving motorcycle safety has two aspects. First, motorcycles must be accurately sensed when approaching ITS control systems traveling by themselves with no other vehicles on the link. This is to assure that they obtain green lights and/or ITS messages important to safety. Second, motorcycles must be accurately sensed, counted, and characterized when traveling in groups of motorcycles or when traveling in mixed traffic so that accurate measurements of motorcycle travel may be made for: (A) VMT measurement purposes; and, (B) congestion mitigation and traffic adaptive control purposes.
Field tests must demonstrate detection of motorcycles/bicycles in a variety of weather/lighting/ "time of day" conditions. Conditions need to include sunrise, sunset, noon, night, sun glare in the Spring and Fall and fog, drizzle, rain and snow. Accuracy must be characterized as the mean values and distributions of hits when a motorcycle is present, misses when a motorcycle is present, correct rejections when not present, false alarms when not present, early measurement of presence before the motorcycle arrives over the sensor area, and late measurement of presence after the motorcycle arrives over the measurement area. Mean values and distributions must be characterized over the different epics (measurement periods) of interest of one minute, five minutes, fifteen minutes, one hour and twenty-four hours.
Phase I would demonstrate the test and evaluate the potential of a new technology or enhancement of an existing technology. A demonstration of the basic effectiveness of the concept would be conducted at the TFHRC intelligent intersection. Compatibility with the 2070 ATC would be part of this test.
Phase II would develop the enhancement, demonstrate the prototype at the TFHRC intelligent intersection, continue development and then field test it at an intersection capable of generating a variety of weather conditions such as at the Va. Tech Smartroad. It should also be tested at a research intersection with a large number of sensors and technologies such as the Purdue intelligent intersection or the TTI facilities so that the system can be better characterized against the state-of-the-art. Finally, the technology should be evaluated at one or more permanent traffic count stations.
NOTE: The specific technologies for this SBIR have not been specified. More than one award may be made if different technologies with high promise are submitted. Detection, classification and characterization of other vehicle types is still important. Development of a motorcycle only sensor is NOT intended.
Relationship to FHWA Strategic Objectives:
Measure: Fatality rate (FY 2007 target is 1.38 per hundred million VMT).
Performance Objective: SF1– Implement comprehensive, integrated and data-driven safety programs at the Federal, State and local level, including State and non-State owned roadway systems.
Comment: This goal requires technology to allow accurate measurement of VMT of motorcycles and bicycles which we CANNOT currently do. Similarly, a key element of intersection safety is assuring that all motorcycles and bicycles approaching intersections are detected and given an appropriate green so that they do not run the red in frustration. There are problems doing this reliably using current technology.
Goal: Mobility & Productivity
Desired Outcome: Reduce transportation time from origin to destination. Increase the reliability of trip times for the Individual Transportation User.
Comment: For motorcycles and bicycles, this outcome cannot be reached unless they can be reliably detected and classified so that ITS technologies can appropriately respond.
Performance Objective: MP1– Mitigate congestion and improve system reliability through actions targeted at key causes of congestion (VF).
Performance Measures: Number of completed deployments of traffic monitoring systems under Transportation Technology and Innovation.
Comment: Again, for motorcycles and bicycles, this outcome cannot be reached unless they can be reliably and ACCURATELY detected, classified and characterized by traffic monitoring systems in all weather and luminance conditions. Existing technologies do not adequately provide these capabilities.
Researchers and Universities need an open source Microscopic Flow Model with both Uninterrupted Flow and Microscopic Flow components based on the Corsim code base for conducting traffic safety research, collision avoidance research and driving simulator research. This research will utilize the source code of both the model and the application programming interface. FHWA has decided to stop directly supporting Corsim and to focus on development of new simulation algorithms. Support for users will be provided by McTrans with their closed source version.
Phase I: Develop prototype open source software to demonstrate the proposer’s abilities to modify and enhance the architecture and maintainability of the Microscopic Flow Model based on the same code base as Corsim base.
Phase II: Make the comprehensive changes needed to create an open source version Microscopic Flow Model suitable for the research communities conducting research into collision avoidance, control algorithms and driving simulation. Develop plans for creating and growing an open source research community and providing community support for the research code base.
Areas in which the Interrupted and Uninterrupted Flow Microscopic Models need extension or documentation to facilitate use by the research community include such areas as (1) Documentation of the time step and extension to a variable time step with resolutions down to 0.01 seconds. (2) Enhancement and documentation of the Run Time Extension to allow direct input of all control parameters for a vehicle or set of vehicles from an external source such as a VII or driving simulator and export of all vehicle and control data for either a specified area around a simulator vehicle or for a specified set of vehicles and control elements. (3) Reorganization and documentation of the code in areas most likely to be modified for research applications and modification of the code to compile and execute on Linux under the G95 open source Fortran 95 compiler using the open source multi-platform Photran/Eclipse IDE. The offeror should present their ideas and approaches to handling R&D needs. (4) Enhancement of the features and capabilities of the vehicle classes to correspond to TEXAS for use on VII and ICM Research (5) Documentation and extension of the origin-destination features to facilitate use of Interrupted Flow Modeling for research with TEXAS and DynaMIT and other models for Integrated Corridor Management and traffic control systems research. (6) Simulation of light rail and heavy rail trains and grade crossings for safety research (7) Addition of a linkage to an open source statistical graphing and plotting package such as gnuplot or DataPlot for producing publication quality research statistics. (8) Investigate incorporation of NGSIM lane changing and car following logic.
The purpose of this project is the enhance the usability of the open source Microscopic Flow Model for research, driving simulation and safety analysis, not for traffic engineering, therefore, the human interface aspects of TSIS are not covered. Similarly, the emphasis is on architectural level changes and changes which facilitate source code utilization in conjunction with other research codes with minimal changes. The vendor would be expected to make revenue by selling services based on modifying the open source Microscopic Flow Models for particular research and driving simulator projects as did for the original developer of Netsim when it was "public domain."
NOTE: The contractor will be expected to Trademark the names Interupted Flow Microscopic Model, (IF M) Uninterupted Flow Microscopic Model (UFMM), Interupted Flow Macroscopic Model and Uninterupted Flow Macroscopic Model.
Relationship to FHWA Strategic Objectives and Vital Few:
- Safety. Continually improve highway safety. This project will significantly increase the performance of simulation systems to interact with safety related research tools such as driving simulators and red light running prevention systems. This will enable systems improvements in the performance of Intersection Collision Avoidance Systems and Red Light Running Prevention Systems by allowing higher quality driving simulator runs simulating these systems.
- Mobility. Continually improve the public’s access through enhancement of its operations, efficiency, and intermodal connections. Enhanced interaction of simulation models with external hardware will allow research into advanced signal control, sensing and dynamic messaging. Open Source availability of the Microscopic (Interrupted and Uninterrupted) Flow Model to the research community will create opportunities for research which do not currently exist.
- Environmental Stewardship & Streamlining. FHWA is committed to protecting and preserving the environment through stewardship and timely reviews. Addition of vehicle types and characteristics and of light and heavy rail will facilitate comprehensive and timely environmental evaluations of surface street control system and CICAS changes on the environment.
081-FH6 *Low Cost Bridge Structural Monitoring Technology / Turning Structural Monitoring Data into Decision-Making Information
Over the past 5 to 10 years, the technology associated with structural monitoring for large infrastructure systems has exploded. A myriad of sensors and systems have been developed, and work is continuing to improve these sensors and systems through the efforts of a range of organizations including academia, industry, and various societies and associations. One deficiency, however, remains with the vast majority of structural monitoring approaches and technologies currently available and being developed - that is, turning the huge amounts of data that are collected into useful decision-making information.
Most structural monitoring sensors and systems currently available or being developed can provide data on either global structural response or local element response. Examples include the range of sensors and systems that provide data on the stress or strain in a component, indicate that a crack has grown larger, or that an element is corroding. However, very little information can be derived from this wealth of data to understand what caused the increase in stress or strain, how significant it is, and what options the facility owner has with respect to addressing the change if it is deemed significant. For example, a large unanticipated strain in a member may be due to a sudden passage of a heavy vehicle, the freezing of a bearing or joint, or a reduction in the cross section of the member due to corrosion or some other factor. Yet, the sensors and systems available today and that are being developed, for the most part, can not tell the owner which of these reasons is the primary cause of the sudden/unexpected increase in strain, and therefore what the response of the owner should be (make an immediate repair, schedule the element or structure for maintenance at some point in the future, or increase load limit enforcement).
There is therefore a huge opportunity to improve the technology for structural monitoring by developing intelligent systems to assess and inform based on the data being reported by these sensors and systems. In the bridge monitoring arena, this will require integration of the structural monitoring hardware with software and analytical models that accurately predict behavior and can extract from the data sufficient information to identify the primary cause of the change in behavior. In so doing, the technology associated with structural monitoring will make a large advance toward the actual goal of structural "health" monitoring.
Phase I: First, to develop a methodology and a work plan for research and conduct an analysis of alternative intelligent system options for detecting primary causes in structural behavior. Second, to identify a technically feasible strategy for developing a robust intelligent system that can integrate disparate sensor data to enable the pinpointing sources of changes in structural behavior.
Phase II: Develop field usable, empirically-validated intelligent system for integrating sensor data that will enable decision-makers to pinpoint primary sources and causes of changes in structural behavior.
Relationship to FHWA Strategic Objectives:
Since the enactment of SAFETEA-LU in 2005, the FHWA has implemented new programs and developed innovations consistent with its primary strategic goal of improving highway safety. This project will promote increased bridge safety while spinning off potential applications to other modes of surface of transport.
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
FRA wishes to investigate the possibility of designing a compact non-contact track geometry measurement system. This system should be easily installed on any rail vehicle (locomotive, passenger or freight cars) and measure the track geometry parameters and any deviations from the designed value for gage, left and right profile, left and right alignments, curvature and cross level and warp in accordance to FRA track safety standards. The data should be presented in one foot intervals. In addition, the system should have an integrated Nationwide Differential GPS (NDGPS) / GPS location identification capability. The final version should be able to operate autonomously, have its own power source and detect the track class and report all the exceptions to a central location.
Parameter; range, precision:
Distance (miles): 10000, 5ft per mile
Gage (inches): 55½" to 58½", 0.0625"
Cross level (inches): ±10", 0.0625"
Profile (inches): ±6", 0.0625"
Alignment (inches): ±7", 0.0625"
Left/right curvature (degrees): ±20", 0.0625"
Warp (inches): ±10", 0.0625"
FRA would like to determine the feasibility of designing a non-contact rail temperature measurement unit for use on a moving rail vehicle. The unit should be rugged and compact enough to allow for installation on the undercarriage of a typical rail locomotive. The unit may consist of two subunits, one for each respective rail. The unit should be capable of being powered by a standard 110 volt AC source or 72 volt DC source. In operation, the unit should report the temperature of each of the two rails to within ±2.5 degrees Fahrenheit accuracy at speeds up to 125 miles per hour. Furthermore, all sensors used should be placed at least 12 inches from each respective rail surface and should provide the average rail temperature for the rail section. The unit should be designed to have the capability to display real-time data streams from each of the sensors. GPS hardware components may be incorporated into the system to allow for integrated GPS location identification capability and remote wireless communication of collected data.
FRA wishes to investigate the possibility of designing a compact non-contact system that can measure distance traveled along the track by the vehicles. In general, most of the measurement systems currently in service, measure the track geometry or rail profile on a distance based measurement system. Most current systems use a tachometer attached to the axle and calculate the distance traveled along the track from the tachometer output and wheel diameter. FRA is wishing to design a non-contact measuring device that can replace tachometer and provide distance traveled along the track at speeds from 0 to 125 mph at 5 feet per mile precision.
FRA wishes to investigate the possibility of designing a non-contact track gage measurement device. This system should be easily installed on any rail vehicle (locomotive, passenger or freight cars) and measure the track gage in accordance to FRA track safety standards. In addition the system should be able to operate in adverse weather conditions (rain, snow) and should not interfere with track components or vehicle operation. The system should be able to collect all the data in both the forward and the reverse move at all speeds up to 125 mph and report the data at one foot interval. The measurement range and accuracy for each channel are as follows: (Gage (inches): 55½" to 58½" Range, 0.0625" Precision).
Situations may arise during switching operations or after an accident or derailment occurs, where the parking brakes on a locomotive or passenger car are disengaged manually to allow movement of the car or consist (when we refer to "consist" we mean 2 or more railcars coupled together). In certain instances, the parking brake air system is compromised and can not provide air pressure to reset the internal fail safe mechanism, thereby inhibiting the intended fail safe application of the parking brakes. When this occurs, the locomotive or car must be chocked to prevent unintentional movement. Chocks can be insufficiently applied to hold the car or consist load. If the car/consist coupler is by-passed or is unintentionally set into motion by an external source, movement can possibly result in dangerous unintentional movement.
The purpose of this SBIR project is to develop a simple, reliable mechanism/component/system to ensure the parking brakes can be reset after the initial loss of air pressure that supplies the parking brake as described above. The mechanism/component/system must be retrofittable onto existing railcar parking brake systems or associated air supply that can be easily adaptable to new locomotives or cars that use the current parking break design. If the proposed mechanism/component/system is external to the locomotive or car parking brake system, then device must be readily transportable to accident sites and allow for simple use by response crews.
The contractor shall conduct a survey of existing parking brake systems and applicable technologies and document the information in a letter report. The contractor shall develop a detailed set of design requirements that clearly describe the form, fit, and function the mechanism/component/system must comply with traditional parking brake and federal requirements to include the Association of American Standards (AAR) and Recommended Practices and/or the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). The contractor shall clearly describe the ranking and selection process to be used to evaluate alternative strategies. The contractor shall then develop a preliminary proof of concept design and demonstrate the functionality of the solution proposed. In the second phase of the SBIR, the contractor must evaluate the prospect of commercialization of the proposed mechanism/component/system.
The contractor must possess knowledge of locomotive and railcar parking brake designs and functionality. Having contacts with operating authority representatives for potential test application is critical.
The information generated in the course of this project shall be summarized and presented in a public forum at the discretion of the Government. The contractor shall also develop a final report describing the methodology, approach, and use of the developed technology.
081-FR6 Cursory and Non-regulatory Removable Safety Appliances for Intermodal or Semi-Permanently Attached Railcars
Situations arise during transport of Continuous Welded Rail (CWR) Maintenance of Way equipment with traditional couplers where railroad employees at times may have to apply handbrakes while the car is in motion. To do so, railroad employees would need to operate the handbrake and the current handholds above the deck of the flat car provide safe operation of its intended use. The rail movement in a CWR rail train at intermediate locations prohibits the safety appliance placement and thus handholds are removed to allow the transporting of the rail to its destination. Removal of the handholds to transport rail causes the car to be non-compliant, as per 49 CFR 231.6 and as identified in Motive Power and Equipment (MP&E) Technical Bulletins (TB) 98-69 (MP&E 98-69) Safety Appliance Arrangements For Flat Cars and MP&E TB 00-07. After removal of the handholds, the railroad must request a one-time movement from the Federal Railroad Administration in order to move the cars to its destination. At its destination, the railcar must be brought back into compliance by reattaching the safety appliance prior to any movement.
The purpose of this SBIR project is to develop a collapsible or retractable cursory handhold to eliminate the need for a railroad to remove the handholds and provide an enhanced safe operational environment for railroad employees as they perform their duties. The proposed deign must be acceptable to the Federal Railroad Administration as an alternate compliant type safety appliance based on the regulations provided in 49 CFR 231 Safety appliance standards, MP&E TB 98-69, MP&E TB 00-07, the requirement for "securely fastened" and railroad employee safety rules for three point protection.
The contractor shall develop a set of design requirements for an advanced handhold device that accomplishes the goals above. A preliminary proof of concept design shall be developed and demonstrated. The contractor must also evaluate the prospect of commercialization of the proposed device. The contractor must possess knowledge of railcar Safety appliance standards as it pertains to the Federal regulation, railroad safety and operating safety rules, practices, and standards. The information generated in the course of this project shall be summarized and presented in a public forum at the discretion of the Government. The contractor shall also develop a final report describing the methodology and approach used to develop the technology.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
The current lack of exposure data makes it extremely difficult to understand changes in pedestrian crash rates. These changes could be due to simple increases or decreases in exposure or to a myriad other factors (changes in congestion, infrastructure, or age of pedestrians). The inability to clearly separate out the relevant factors contributing to pedestrian fatalities inhibits our ability to design effective countermeasure programs to reduce pedestrian crashes.
Pedestrian exposure is difficult to capture because it can be defined in a number of ways. For instance, exposure can be defined as number of streets crossed, time spent walking near streets, or distance traveled near streets. There is also controversy over what type of trip should be counted. Exposure can include walking to a mailbox, walking in a parking lot, a walking trip that begins and ends at the same location, etc. In addition, one may want to measure walking, but that may not provide exposure to traffic and consequently risk of a crash. In order to understand pedestrian crash risk, exposure will be defined as any situation in which a pedestrian is at risk for being hit by a vehicle on public roads (fatalities included in NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Report System only include crashes that occur on public roads).
The goal of this study is to develop the technology and test the methodology for using technology to estimate pedestrian exposure in a pilot test. One possible technology is a GPS tracker, but there may be others. Phase I of the study will be devoted to identifying technological systems that a person could easily carry and that capture details such as exact location on a map (i.e., walking next to a street and most likely on a sidewalk or path) to ascertain if the pedestrian is exposed to a traffic risk, or just walking. Phase I would also develop strategies to ensure that the technology would be worn most of the time by participants and is easy to use. Finally, because exposure can be defined several different ways, this project will use mathematical modeling that will incorporate various factors (time walked, distance walked, number of streets walked, etc.) to estimate exposure. The outcomes of Phase I are to determine:
- The feasibility of using technology to identify various types of walking trips
- How walking trips will be identified
- The types of information that each technology device collects
- The software needed to record and store the data for later analyses
- The mathematical models needed to estimate exposure
- The ease of use of different technology systems for participants and if the technology is viable
- The proposed methodology for a pilot study in Phase II which includes strategies to ensure participants have their trackers for a specified time period during data collection
All of these outcomes in Phase I would be described in a final report.
If technology exists to estimate pedestrian exposure, the project would move to Phase II. A pilot study will be conducted in Phase II which develops the methodology of using technology to estimate pedestrian exposure. Phase II shall recruit participants at one site, capture exposure data from each participant for a predetermined period of time, and record, store, and analyze the data using mathematical models to estimate pedestrian exposure. Bidders are encouraged to discuss sampling plans and how to determine the ideal timeframe that participants should wear technology device. For instance, would a wearing a device (e.g., GPS tracker) for one randomly selected week more than likely capture the typical pedestrian exposure? Would it take one month to get a more reliable estimate of annual pedestrian exposure? Bidders should also discuss the logistics of carrying out such a pilot study and how they would select a site. The outcomes of Phase II include a final report which discusses in detail the study methodology, analyses and results, and discusses the feasibility of conducting a large-scale, nationwide study in the future.
Recently, the Department of Transportation released an Action Plan to Reduce Motorcycle Fatalities (DOT HS 810 855, 2007) in response to the dramatic increase in motorcycle fatalities over the last 10 years. Motorcycle fatalities are 11% of all motor vehicle fatalities despite the fact that motorcycles are approximately 2% of all registered vehicles. The greatest increases in motorcycle operator fatalities have occurred among older motorcycle operators ages 40 and over. A majority of these older motorcyclists were riding large engine motorcycles (1001-1500cc). While we know the characteristics of fatal motorcycle crashes, we do not understand the causes. Our inability to clearly separate out the relevant factors contributing to the recent rise in motorcycle fatalities inhibits our ability to design effective countermeasure programs to reduce motorcycle crashes.
One basic lack of data is vehicle miles traveled (VMT). It would be helpful to have a simple-to-use device or method to record motorcycle vehicle miles traveled and thus get a better measure of exposure for motorcycle riders. Another data gap is a lack of understanding of the factors contributing to motorcycle crashes. One way to address this data gap is to explore the feasibility of outfitting motorcycles with technology (for example data recorders) to record speed, distance, locations traveled, time of day, day of week, crashes, near misses (if feasible), etc. While similar technology exists for vehicles, it was not possible in the past to outfit a motorcycle due to the size of the data recording equipment. Phase I will address two activities: (1) identify and develop a method or technology to obtain a measure of motorcycle vehicle miles traveled; and (2) identify a technology that can be developed to obtain better information about the factors contributing to motorcycle crashes. The acceptability of any such technology will also have to be explored. The first activity has implications for commercial use, while the second activity will be useful as a research tool. Bidders are encouraged to discuss strategies to identify methods and technology for collecting VMT data, as well as technology for collecting more comprehensive data on factors related to motorcycle crashes. If no existing technology exists, bidders are encouraged to develop prototype devices, as appropriate. The outcome of Phase I will be a final report detailing (1) available methods and technology for collecting VMT data and for collecting data on the factors associated with motorcycle crashes; (2) if none exist, specify a prototype devices for collecting the above data; (3) identification and discussion of the software needed to record and store the data; and (4) discussion of feasibility and acceptability issues.
If technology and methods exist or can be developed to collect motorcycle VMT data or to outfit motorcycles with technology to collect data on crash factors, the project would move to Phase II. Phase II would be an effort to further develop and test the technology or methods, including a small-scale pilot test. The objectives of Phase II are to (1) develop and refine any proposed technology and methods; (2) test the methodology and technology for collecting the relevant data (e.g., VMT, factors associated with crashes); (3) conduct a small pilot study to collect VMT data and to outfit a small number of motorcycles with technology to collect information related to motorcycle crashes. The outcomes of Phase II are to determine (1) if the technology and/or methods for collecting the relevant data are feasible; (2) the extent to which data can be collected, stored and managed; and (3) the extent to which motorcycle riders volunteer to participate in a research study. These outcomes would be included in a final report detailing the extent to which a full-scale study is feasible, and if feasible, describe the most efficient methodology for a full-scale study.
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
America receives over two-thirds of the crude and petroleum products for more than 55 million residential and commercial customers, through more than 170,000 miles of Hazardous Liquid pipelines (based on year 2007 liquid pipeline operator national mileage information). In addition, over 295,000 miles of gas transmission pipeline transport natural gas to local companies that distribute it through over 1,900,000 miles of pipelines to local customers. This supply of energy has too often been disrupted by pipeline leaks. In addition, damage from excavation is the leading cause for in-field utilities disruption.
For Pipeline Safety, research is sought on the use of innovative tools or concepts that allow for pipeline detection of internal corrosion; defect remediation, repair and or mitigation on both hazardous liquid and or natural gas pipelines.
Areas of interest include but are not limited to:
Development of Tools for In-field Pipeline Repairs
In-field repair of a damaged pipeline must be performed safely, efficiently, rapidly, and reliably. Reinforcement of damaged pipelines is typically accomplished by welding a repair patch and then recoating the repaired area. The welded full-encirclement sleeve is still the most common repair system due to the lower risk, potential cost savings, and simplicity of the repair. Recent developments in fiber reinforced composite repair patches have led to their increased usage across other industries. A composite repair offers an alternative to welding as the strength is claimed to be comparable. The pipeline surface conditions are also likely to play a role in the long term performance of the composite patch but exactly to what extent is unclear. Currently there are no recommended practices for the use of fiber reinforced composite repair patches in the natural gas and or hazardous liquids industry.
Applications are sought to study, develop and demonstrate new repair techniques for Transmission and or Distribution Pipelines. Anticipated results would provide data in support of long term performance and or recommended method/practices for their application.
Nanotechnology Tools for Internal Corrosion of Pipelines
Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable oval applications. Encompassing nanoscale science, engineering and technology, nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, modeling, and manipulating matter at this length scale. Nanotechnology is advancing rapidly in several other technology applications.
Determining the presence and corrosivity of water is an important component of Internal Corrosion Direct Assessment (ICDA) in the pipeline industry. Current available technologies are limited because some cannot be applied to all pipelines and others require prior knowledge of where to locate the sensors and costly pipeline excavations to emplace the sensors.
Applications are sought for new nanotechnologies for detection and elimination of internal corrosive compounds, and or providing assessment information that could compare product composition. Anticipated results would provide quantifiable and reliable improvements in ICDA. Applications are sought to study, develop and demonstrate nanotechnologies or techniques towards pipeline internal corrosion.
Hazardous materials are essential to the economy of the United States and the well-being of its people. Hazardous materials fuel automobiles, heat and cool homes and offices, purify water supplies, and are used for farming and medical applications and in manufacturing, mining, and other industrial processes. More than 3 billion tons of regulated hazardous materials — including explosive, poisonous, corrosive, flammable, and radioactive materials — are transported in this country each year. There are over 800,000 daily shipments of hazardous materials moving by plane, train, truck, or vessel in quantities ranging from ounces to thousands of gallons.
*Methods for Transmitting and Transferring Hazardous Material Shipment Information Electronically
PHMSA is investigating the feasibility of promoting and authorizing the use of electronic documentation and information sharing associated with Electronic Freight Management (EFM) initiatives to provide the necessary safety information and hazard communication requirements related to the transportation of hazardous materials (HM). Transportation industry organizations are expressing the need to expand EFM technologies based upon the growing level of container imports and the tightening of the supply chain. There is an ever increasing interest from a broad group of stakeholders, some of which are operating in just-in-time manufacturing and delivery environments, in order enhance productivity and efficiency relative to HM transport. Delays in cargo delivery due to errors in shipping papers or the need to generate different documentation for each delivery mode can cause significant impacts to just-in-time operations. Research is needed in order to determine effective systems which would enable EFM and promote the clear and accurate communication of shipment information between shippers, carriers, and receivers as well as emergency response personnel and applicable inspectors.
*Improvement of Data Collection from Incidents Involving Hazardous Materials
Geospatial information can be a valuable tool in evaluating hazardous materials incidents in terms of evacuations and material dispersions; assessing risks associated with hazardous materials commodity flows and transportation corridors; identifying high hazard areas and critical infrastructure and their proximity to emergency response assets and facilities; and planning exercises and drills to evaluate local response plans. Research is needed to determine the accuracy and tolerances for hazardous materials transportation geospatial data to be useful in supporting the evaluations, assessments, and planning actions noted above as well as other activities.
*Using Handheld Devices to Assist in Emergency Response to Hazardous Materials Incidents
Explore ways to link electronic GPS Navigation systems and devices to protective action distances provided in the Mobile ERG to assist first responders in determining evacuation/protective action areas, identifying detours around the protected/incident areas, and rerouting/notifying the public immediately through the traffic radio services already available to users of such navigation systems. These portable mobile systems are becoming more sophisticated, experiencing significant growth in usage by drivers and the traveling pubic, and soon will likely be common equipment in many vehicles. Developing and linking these systems could: 1. help protect the first responders, 2. protect the traveling public, and 3. reduce congestion through immediate rerouting/detours to keep the flow of traffic moving during mitigation and clean up of hazmat incidents.