2020 Design Challenge: SMART mobility with details from DriveOhio

Many STEM educators are at the forefront of teaching via problem-based curriculum: Present a real-life problem, guide students in a brainstorm to solve the problem using STEM strategies.

This method is the heart of the Ohio STEM Learning Network’s annual Design Challenge. Prior Design Challenges, posed to teachers and students across Ohio in all grade levels, tackled the opioid epidemic, heart disease and food insecurity. During each year-long challenge, students research, build and test a solution to the designated problem and then present their ideas at Battelle.

This time, the challenge centers on improving transportation via “smart mobility.” So, what is smart mobility? DriveOhio, one of the bigger advocacy organizations in this area, has been researching and testing smart mobility modes of transportation for a year, and Rich Granger, managing director of workforce development for DriveOhio, filled us in on its latest projects.

Want to learn more? In the next few weeks, we’ll be announcing a fall training event focused on the challenge, new educational resources and more. Sign up your school today at designchallenge.osln.org.

Q: What is DriveOhio and what are its goals? 

A: DriveOhio, an initiative of the Ohio Department of Transportation, was established in 2018 as the state’s one-stop shop to advance connected and automated vehicle technology on the ground and in the air to increase safety, enhance mobility, expand access, improve reliability and attract, prepare and retain Ohio’s talent.

These five “SMART” pillars – Safety, Mobility, Access, Reliability and Talent – guide our team as we work to deploy smart mobility solutions across the state.  As the single point of contact for all of Ohio’s smart mobility initiatives and advancements, DriveOhio is uniquely positioned to foster collaboration, provide faster access to resources by cutting through government red tape, improve efficiencies for industry partners and establish statewide standards for the deployment of automated and connected vehicles.

Image result for drive ohio logoWe created the “DriveOhio Alliance” that includes partners from government, industry, education and communities to ensure that Ohio is ready for the future of smart mobility.

  • To ensure our investments are aligned with market trends, we coordinate with partners across a variety of industry sectors that drive the state’s economy, including automotive, aerospace, logistics and agriculture.
  • To ensure Ohio’s workforce is prepared for evolving and emerging career opportunities, we collaborate with education partners and stakeholders from pre-K to Ph.D.
  • To ensure Ohio’s regulatory environment and public policies are ready for the deployment of smart mobility infrastructure and technology, we partner with a wide range of government and community stakeholders.
Rich Granger’s presentation about Drive Ohio. Download it here.

Q: What is “smart mobility,” and how does DriveOhio hope to achieve it? 

A: In simple terms, smart mobility means using emerging technologies to improve the mobility of people and goods. It’s the use of new technologies to move things from Point A to Point B in the safest, most convenient and most cost-effective way.

Smart mobility encompasses everything from car-sharing programs, on-demand ride services and better access to public transportation, to drones, automated and connected vehicles, and transportation infrastructure that’s connected, automated and intelligent.

DriveOhio looks at smart mobility through the lens of collaboration with a wide variety of partners and stakeholders across government, industry, education and our communities. We are working with these partners to identify problems, develop concepts to address these challenges, and secure funding through a variety of public and private partnerships to deploy solutions.

We envision the Ohio STEM Learning Network’s statewide smart mobility design challenge as a significant contribution to making Ohio’s roads safer while preparing and engaging our emerging workforce.

Q: In general, what kind of technologies is DriveOhio spearheading? Who will benefit from these technologies, and how? 

A: DriveOhio is partnering with public and private organizations to deploy smart mobility technology solutions including connected and automated vehicles and infrastructure on the ground and in the air.

For example, the U.S.33 Smart Mobility Corridor in central Ohio represents a rapidly growing ecosystem of smart mobility technology assets, programs and deployments. We’re deploying “connected vehicle environments” in Marysville and Dublin that will create a continuously connected corridor to test a variety of safety applications such as intersection warning and collision avoidance, pedestrian in crosswalk warnings, curve speed warnings, and reduced speed zone warning and lane closure alerts.

These smart mobility technology deployments will benefit all 11.5 million Ohioans by making our roadways safer. Through our partnerships across the DriveOhio Alliance, we have a mix of assets and resources in Ohio that make it an exceptional location to develop, test and commercialize smart mobility technologies – as we tell our partners, “Come Here to Test, Stay Here to Grow.”

From its collaborative environment and expansive infrastructure to its four-season climate and exceptional research and test facilities, Ohio is the best place to deploy and scale up smart mobility technologies.

YouTube video

Q: What individuals and businesses are you partnering with, and how are they helping DriveOhio achieve its goals? 

A: A major ingredient of our success is partnership. I can’t say this enough – partnerships are what will drive success when we look at states and regions that will attract and retain the jobs and companies of tomorrow.

As the one-stop shop for Ohio’s smart mobility initiatives, DriveOhio is uniquely positioned to foster collaboration to help pair communities with companies and organizations that can solve their mobility challenges, thereby making Ohio’s roads safer.

DriveOhio’s partners include:

  • AAA
  • Cities of Dublin, Marysville, Athens, Urbana and Xenia
  • Ford Smart Mobility
  • Goodyear
  • Honda
  • Smart Columbus
  • Universities of Cincinnati and Toledo
  • Ohio State, Youngstown State and Ohio universities
  • Columbus State Community and Sinclair colleges
  • Ohio Hi-Point and Auburn career centers
  • Eastgate and Ohio Kentucky Indiana (OKI) regional councils of governments
  • Ohio departments of Education and Higher Education
  • Ohio Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation
  • Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity (PTIO)
  • Partners For Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE)

Q: Is Ohio a good place to test and implement the DriveOhio projects? Why? 

A: Absolutely – the smart mobility ecosystem that Ohio has developed is second to none.

For example, along the U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor, with assets such as the Transportation Research Center’s new SMARTCenter, Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research, Smart Columbus, the city of Dublin and the city of Marysville, companies have access to world-class research and test facilities as well as access to urban and rural environments to quickly take a project from the test track to the real world.

Q: Describe some of your projects that are up and running, including the SMARTCenter and the self-driving shuttle along the Scioto Mile. What is on the drawing board and/or close to implementation? 

A: The ribbon was cut on the Transportation Research Center’s SMARTCenter on July 10, 2019. The center is a key asset of the smart mobility ecosystem that the state of Ohio has developed. SMARTCenter facts:

  • $45 million total funding for Phase 1, from partners including the Ohio Department of Transportation, JobsOhio and Ohio State University.
  • More than 1.1 million square feet of pavement equaling 18.5 lane miles.
  • More than 20,000 linear feet of underground conduits to distribute power and fiber optics throughout the site.

In partnership with DriveOhio, Smart Columbus, the city of Columbus and the Columbus Partnership, the Smart Circuit shuttle was deployed in December 2018. Smart Circuit is the first deployment of automated shuttle technology in Ohio. Three low-speed shuttles staffed by trained operators circle the Scioto Mile seven days a week, transporting passengers to four destinations in downtown Columbus: COSI, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, the Smart Columbus Experience Center and Bicentennial Park.

The shuttles offer Columbus residents and visitors a hands-on experience designed to educate local innovators on the capabilities and potential of automated vehicle technology and inspire the community to envision how these vehicles can transform our community’s future.

Upcoming deployments include:

  • I-670 SmartLane: The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is close to completing the state’s first SmartLane, a 9-mile stretch of I-670 between downtown Columbus and John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

ODOT is turning the eastbound shoulder into a lane that drivers can use during peak traffic. The SmartLane will feature digital signage along the route to announce whether it’s open or closed and to constantly update drivers about road conditions and the variable speed limit. The SmartLane will also be outfitted with high-definition cameras so traffic monitors can constantly watch conditions on the road.

The cost to develop the SmartLane, which will be used only during peak congestion, is significantly less than the cost of building an additional lane.

  • U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor: The U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor is a 35-mile stretch of U.S. 33 in Ohio between Dublin and East Liberty through Marysville that will serve as a real-world proving ground for automated and connected vehicles.

ODOT and local governments are equipping the road with high-capacity fiber-optic cable and roadside sensors that will instantaneously link researchers and traffic monitors with data generated from communication units installed in vehicles and wireless sensors along the roadway. The U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor is one of the country’s premiere smart highways for automated and connected testing.

  • Linden Shuttle: The Smart Columbus automated shuttle in the Linden community on the northeast side of Columbus will run between St. Stephen’s Community House, Douglas Community Recreation Center, Rosewind Resident Council and the Linden Transit Center. The shuttle has been awarded to EasyMile. Deployment is slated for November 2019. Further details are coming soon.

Q: How can educators take advantage of what DriveOhio has to offer and translate that into STEM lessons in the classroom? 

A: The OSLN Smart Mobility Design Challenge is an opportunity for educators and their students to actively engage in problem-based learning focused on real problems in their own communities. DriveOhio will provide context and background information sourced from local and regional partners and stakeholders.

Challenge topics could include improving access to jobs, health care, and education for vulnerable populations; exploring technical and community challenges related to deployment of smart mobility technologies; and/or improving existing infrastructure and transportation services such as paratransit.

At DriveOhio we’re excited to engage with Ohio’s emerging workforce and K-12 educators to enlist their ideas to help solve 21st century challenges that will directly impact the safe and effective movement of people and goods for generations ahead.

 Q: How can readers learn more about DriveOhio? 

A: You can find DriveOhio on the web at https://drive.ohio.gov/, and on our social media handles:

You can also contact DriveOhio team members:

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