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SBIR Success Stories

U.S. DOT SBIR success stories highlight how SBIR program funding supports small businesses in developing new and innovative technologies that benefit the U.S. DOT and the public. 

Have an SBIR success story to tell? Contact us at

New Drone-Based System Assesses Highway-Rail Crossings to Improve Safety

A man wearing a hard hat and safety vest holds a drone that's equipped with a camera.Agency: Federal Railroad Administration  
Company: MTRI Inc.
Product: Crossing-i

Poor highway-rail grade crossing design can contribute to rail incidents. To address this challenge, MTRI Inc. developed Crossing-i, a drone-enabled inspection system, to assess crossing safety with help from U.S. DOT’s SBIR program and FRA...continue reading about Crossing-i.

Increasing Efficiency in Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Inspections

A photo of a highway-rail grade crossing with graphical overlays that indicate the crossing's height and that zero-in on crossing signage.Agency: Federal Railroad Administration  
Company: VisioStack
Product: Aerial Crossing Inspection System (AXIS)

Some highway-rail grade crossings are inspected only every 2-3 years. To address this challenge, VisioStack developed the Aerial Crossing Inspection System (AXIS) to assess crossing safety more efficiently with help from U.S. DOT’s SBIR program and FRA...continue reading about AXIS.

Robotic Utility Mapper Reduces Costs, Improves Safety During Infrastructure Planning and Maintenance

The Robotic Utility Mapping and Inspection System drives on 4 wheels and is equipped with a ground-penetrating radar, GPS receiver, stereo camera, and 3D LiDAR sensor.Agency: Federal Highway Administration
Company: Intelligent Automation, Inc., a BlueHalo Company
Project: Robotic Utility Mapping and Inspection System (RUMI)

Accurately locating buried utilities is critical to safe infrastructure planning and maintenance. Enter RUMI—the robot that maps utility lines—developed by Intelligent Automation, Inc. with help from U.S.DOT's SBIR program and FHWA...continue reading about RUMI.

First-of-Its-Kind Hazard Alert System for Motorcyclists

Agency: Federal Highway Administration
Company: Charles River Analytics
Project: Roadway Hazard Alert System for Motorcycles

With support from U.S. DOT’s SBIR program, Charles River Analytics developed a first-of-its-kind app that uses data from riders, traffic reports, and weather forecasts to alert motorcyclists to such hazards as poor road, weather, and traffic conditions...continue reading about Charles River Analytics' motorcycle safety app.

Introducing Students to Careers in Intelligent Transportation Systems

A teacher and two students read over a set of instructions next to a bin filled with robotic car parts.Agency: Federal Highway Administration
Company: NanoSonic, Inc.
Project: STEM Education - Increasing Awareness about Intelligent Transportation Systems and Connected Vehicle Technologies for High School Students

With support from U.S. DOT’s SBIR program, NanoSonic Inc. worked with local middle school and high school STEM teachers in Giles County, Virginia, to develop 60+ STEM lesson plans and created a mobile game app and board game that engage students in ITS and connected vehicle concepts...continue reading about NanoSonic's STEM education.

Evaluating Fatigue in Individual Drivers 

DAISY systemAgency: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Company: Pulsar Informatics, Inc.
Project: Advanced Fatigue Modeling for Individual Differences

With support from U.S. DOT’s SBIR program, Pulsar Informatics, Inc., developed a data analytics technology that uses existing streams of trucking data to evaluate driver fatigue and provide actionable feedback in near real-time...continue reading about Pulsar Informatics, Inc.'s Trucking Fatigue Meter.

Supporting Safe Handoff between Human Drivers and Automated Driving Systems

DAISY systemAgency: Federal Highway Administration
Company: Soar Technology, Inc.
Product: Drivers Assistant for Intelligent SafetY (DAISY)

With support from U.S. DOT’s SBIR program, Soar Technology, Inc., based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, developed a system that alerts drivers to their surroundings during the handoff between an automated driving system and a human driver...continue reading about the Driver’s Assistant for Intelligent SafetY.

New Seat Belt Locking Mechanisms Aim to Improve Child Safety

Tool, Inc. prototype seat belt retractorAgency: National Highway Traffic Safety
Company: Tool, Inc.
Product: Device to Address the Competing Needs of Ensuring Lockability of Seat Belts and Mitigating Entrapment Risk in Misuse Conditions

With support from the U.S. DOT SBIR program and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Tool, Inc. designed and developed prototype seat belt retractor countermeasures aimed at reducing the risk of seat belt entrapment...continue reading about Tool, Inc.'s prototype entrapment countermeasure designs.

A Safer Way to Access Freight Locomotives

The GS Engineering, Inc. Locomotive Access SystemAgency: Federal Railroad Administration  
Company: GS Engineering, Inc.
Product: Easy Access to Freight Locomotives

With support from the U.S. DOT SBIR program and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), GS Engineering, Inc. developed and tested a system that makes accessing freight locomotives easier and safer for railroad engineers and workers...continue reading about the Locomotive Access System.


Detecting Damage in Structural Components with New Infrared Technologies

FCI infrared technology bridge inspectionAgency: Federal Highway Administration  
Company: Fuchs Consulting, Inc.
Product: ThermalStare Innovative Infrared Systems

Fuchs Consulting, Inc. developed a suite of infrared-based technologies that assess the condition of paint coatings, image subsurface damage in concrete, and measure the level of stress in steel. These data are then used by customers to inform key decisions on maintenance and repairs...continue reading about Fuchs Consulting, Inc.'s suite of infrared-based technologies.

Read more SBIR success stories in the archive.

About SBIR

Volpe administers the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program for U.S. DOT and helps U.S. DOT’s operating administrations identify topics and solutions to some of our nation’s most pressing transportation challenges.

Through SBIR, Volpe has awarded more than $78 million in small business funding over the last 10 years on behalf of DOT’s eight participating operating administrations.

Last updated: Thursday, March 31, 2022