grant-transportA federally funded collaborative project by Carnegie Mellon and University at Buffalo researchers aims to advance physical access and public transportation for individuals with disabilities, blending computer science technology and the principles of universal design. According to a recent news release from Carnegie Mellon University, to fund the project the US Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) provided a new grant to the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Accessible Public Transportation that extends an existing 5-year grant that concludes this year.

The center, the release notes, will develop tactics to empower consumers, manufacturers, and service providers in the design and evaluation of accessible transportation equipment, information services, and physical environments. Aaron Steinfeld, RI, associate research professor, Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute will serve as the center’s principal investigator. Steinfeld works on human-robot interaction and intelligent transportation systems in the Quality of Life Technology (QoLT) Center at Carnegie Mellon. The release states Steinfeld will also co-direct the center with father, Edward Steinfeld, ArchA, AIA, professor of architecture at the University at Buffalo who heads the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA). The IDeA Center is intended to improve the design of environments and products by making them more usable, safe, and appealing to people with a wide range of abilities.

Edward Steinfeld emphasizes the importance of universal design as a “human centered approach to design” and its role in creating a more convenient, comfortable, healthier, and safer environment for everyone. “It extends the lessons learned in design for disability to all riders, recognizing that the transportation environment presents challenges for all,” Steinfeld says.

Carnegie Mellon researchers will reportedly use the app Tiramisu Transit to better understand how real-time trip information and community dialog can empower accessible travel. The release also notes that Buffalo researchers will continue design research in an effort to improve speed during the boarding and disembarking of buses, while also making it safer and more accessible.

An additional project is designed to leverage existing technologies supported by the Traffic21 program at Carnegie Mellon to develop software systems to assist riders during multi-modal trips. Carnegie Mellon states that the collaborations with industry are also planned, building on the team’s prior work in vehicle designs with the Gillig Bus Corporation and begin a new effort with the Dallas Smith Corporation. The release also notes that the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority in Buffalo and the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh continue to assist the researchers as they develop new technologies and concepts.

For more information about the RERC on Accessible Public Transportation, click here

Source: Carnegie Mellon