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Agency: Department of Transportation
Program/Year: SBIR / 2014
Solicitation Number: DTRT57-14-R-SBIR2
Release Date: July 14, 2014
Open Date: July 14, 2014
Close Date: September 15, 2014
14.2-FA1: Commercial Space Vehicle Tracking Using 1090 MHz ADS-b

Commercial space vehicles licensed by the FAA include launch vehicles, re-entry vehicles and manned high altitude balloons.  Operations of commercial space vehicles will become increasingly frequent and then routine in various regions of the US.  The primary objective of this research is to ensure no degradation to both the safety and efficiency of the National Airspace (NAS) for other NAS users such as commercial general and military aviation occurs as commercial space vehicles become routine.  The proposed research will build on existing Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) to perform surveillance of commercial space vehicles as they transition through the NAS either on the ascent or descent phases of flight by building on existing, operational, flight- proven 1090MHz Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology.  ADS-B is germane to any nature of flight operations (a characteristic attributed to GPS based technologies); this service could be used to surveil commercial space operations, and provide much needed information to ATM services that are responsible for the associated operational environments and provide them situational awareness of these vehicles above the NAS.  Accordingly, while ADS-B is potentially a favorable candidate for surveillance of commercial space operations, extensive research is required to determine the necessary operational, functional and physical system characteristics for development of an adequate spacecraft surveillance platform(s).


ADS-B “Out” equipment transmits position and velocity and other information from a given aircraft to the operating network of ~650 ADS-B ground based receivers for use by Air Traffic Control personnel.   It operates at frequencies of 978MHz and 1090MHz.  However current ADS-B “Out” equipment for commercial and general aviation is designed to operate below 60,000 feet at subsonic velocities and accelerations below 4Gs, making it of limited value to commercial space vehicles.  While a prototype 978 MHz ADS-B Out specifically designed for commercial space vehicles has been flown on high altitude balloons and various rocket powered vehicles (including a commercial launch vehicle), an analogous1090 MHz ADS-B Out prototype has not been designed, let alone developed.  Aside from its transmission frequency, 1090MHz equipment has a different message structure and other characteristics from 978MHz.   Equipment in both frequencies offer unique benefits to space transportation operations in the NAS and are needed for test flights to properly evaluate them.  Additionally, 978MHz is primarily used in the US whereas 1090 MHz is used internationally so that US-built commercial space vehicles equipped with a functioning 1090 MHz ADS-B Out could more easily operate in these countries.  Finally the capability for receipt of ADS-B messages from a commercial space vehicle beyond line of sight of FAA receivers (over broad ocean areas, mountainous areas, deep valleys) is an enabler for continuous seamless tracking of these vehicles. This capability is achievable using existing  communications satellite capabilities at low cost but has not been demonstrated with commercial space vehicles and is a necessary research shortfall to be addressed in this effort


Expected Phase I Outcomes:


  • Perform a trade study exploring 1) upgrading existing commercial 1090 MHz ADS-B Outfor use on commercial launch vehicles , re-entry vehicles and manned high altitude balloons or 2)“clean sheet design” and deliver study findings.  Based on this trade study select a path forward and  provide 1) preliminary design information for a 1090 MHz ADS-B Out prototype and one (1) functioning  “bread board” level maturity prototype.  During Phase I, the delivered  prototype will be used  for independent function/ performance testing with the FAA GPS altitude/velocity simulator as well as high altitude balloon flights (funded or arranged by FAA) to collect and analyze trajectory data.  Trajectory data will be used to evaluate prototype performance and to develop and anchor modeling and simulation exercises.
  • In parallel to task described above perform a trade study on optimal means of transmitting ADS-B messages from the payload using an existing communication satellite message format/technology when it is not line of sight of FAA receiving equipment.  Study will explore 1) upgrading existing commercial satellite communication equipment that has minimal latency capability and low power, volume and weight for use on commercial launch vehicles, re-entry vehicles and manned high altitude balloons or 2) a “clean sheet design” utilizing readily available COTS technology for this application and deliver study findings.  Based on this trade study select a path forward and  provide 1) preliminary design information for a commercial satellite communication transmitter to support ADS-B payload described above and one (1) functioning  “bread board” level maturity prototype capable of receiving data (i.e.ADS-B messages) from  the ADS-B equipment described above and transmitting it for tracking purposes.  During Phase I,  the delivered  prototype will be used  for independent function/ performance testing to receive and transmit data as well as high altitude balloon flights and potentially flights on rocket powered vehicles

Expected Phase II Outcomes:


  • Design and develop commercial space flight surveillance test bed, as is described within the formulated study plan within phase 1 of this research endeavor. Test bed should include hardware and software development capabilities, as well as full-fidelity simulation tools.
  • Deliver TBD (up to a total of 10) 1090MHz ADS-B prototypes for ground testing in the test bed described above and on commercial  space transportation platforms (tro be arranged by FAA)
  • Initial delivery of TBD (up to 5) early prototypes based on lessons learned from and design of bread board model delivered in phase I for ground testing balloon and suborbital testing TBD months after award of Phase II
  • Follow on delivery of TBD (up to 5) advanced  prototypes based on lessons learned from and design of bread board model delivered in phase I for ground testing balloon and suborbital testing TBD (greater than 6 months after award)
  • Perform viability and reliability testing to establish whether phase 1 outcomes produce a practical solution for surveillance of commercial space flights within the National Airspace System (NAS). Viability testing will examine if the provided surveillance data for a commercial space flight satisfies the information requirements needed for air traffic management and airspace accessibility. Reliability testing will seek to identify the integrity of that surveillance information by determining the level of maintained surveillance accuracy and the frequency of “drop-outs” or degradation in signal. From these tests, a preliminary feasibility assessment can be made, and if deemed viable and reliable, the associated philosophy of use for the prototype ADS-B transceiver can then begin formal development (to be eventually captured within a Concept of Operations or a Concept of Use).
  • Preform a limited set of operational assessment studies, in which the impacts to safety and efficiency across different environments are identified and examined. The goal of these studies will be to establish an initial set of findings that identify correlative relationships between a commercial space flight transiting an airspace sector and the general effects imposed upon that airspace. To accomplish such, studies could vary traffic levels, traffic configuration, airspace size, and the direction of transit for the commercial spacecraft (i.e. inbound or outbound). Overall, the outcome of this research will begin to identify challenges to full integration of commercial space flights within the NAS.
  • Publish a final report capturing the findings of the above outlined activities which, in summary, will provide an initial overall assessment of the ADS-B prototype, including its functionality, operational viability, operational reliability, and operational applicability and a path forward to commercial use


14.2-FA2: 14.2-FA2 Management System Display to Track Emergency Response Vehicles and Mutual Aid During a Crash Response

Disaster response at airports involves integration of airport fire rescue with emergency personnel and equipment from the surrounding community. The current response model is built upon the concept of mutual aid. As such, airport command authorities face the task of coordinating and tracking multiple disparate fire rescue units and personnel. Technology could provide an integrated command and control tracking and reporting system designed specifically for the airport incident commander and command authority.


The purpose of this research is to develop a command and control management information prototype for use at airports during crash or disaster responses that aids in facilitating intelligent, coordinated airport and mutual-aid response. A successful outcome shall include the following: Provide real-time situational awareness to airport command authorities through the use of technology that provides a disaster response command and control management information system in a portable device, possibly linked to other devices and/or airport systems. Consider integrating Global Positioning System (GPS) or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to track airport fire rescue vehicles, as well as mutual aid vehicles and personnel during an airport crash or disaster.  Consider integration of data available from existing patient and/or victim tracking systems to follow patients in collection, triage, treatment, and transport.


The prototype shall: Integrate pull-down menus that allow command authorities to track aircraft rescue firefighting vehicles (airport and mutual aid) deployed and available, their location, their crew structure, and their current capabilities and capacities.  Provide access to existing airport emergency plan documents, mutual-aid agreements, letters of agreement (LOA), and other pertinent emergency response or air traffic plans. Provide command authorities updated airport and air-traffic status (runway status and condition, heliport status etc.) affecting emergency response.  Provide the ability to track communications channel use and current status, both mutual aid and airport specific.   Provide the ability for command authorities to track and/or input data related to existing hazardous materials, either on the aircraft, or in the vicinity, that may affect the rescue and fire response. Provide the ability for the incident commander and the emergency operations center to track available fire agent and water status, both at the airport or available to the airport through mutual aid. If appropriate to the situation, provide the ability to track water rescue efforts to include tracking of water rescue vehicles available, their status, communications capabilities, and findings during deployment. 


Display information and figures in a management ready format in a portable display for command authorities to use in directing the fire attack and victim recovery efforts. Provide for collaboration and sharing of data between incident command and airport emergency operations center staff, to include the provision of template reports and status forms that could be revised by individual airports/EOC authorities to fit local needs.


To be effective the prototype should:

-          Be portable and low cost.

-          Be adaptable to a variety of airports.

-          Address airport specific emergency response.

Expected Phase I Outcomes:


Provide a detailed concept that demonstrates the capabilities of a prototype command and control management information system for airport disaster response use.


Expected Phase II Outcomes:  


Identify or develop a product that addresses the command and control needs and requirements listed above.


Field test product(s) to determine viability of use in real world situations.

14.2-FH1 : Decentralized, Public, and Mobile-Based Sidewalk Inventory Tool

Communities throughout the U.S. are increasingly encouraging walking for transportation and recreation in order to meet a range of safety, health, equity, sustainability, and other goals. One way to accomplish this is by actively working to fill gaps in the pedestrian network and to improve sidewalks or other pedestrian pathways that have fallen into disrepair. A significant challenge to working methodically and strategically toward pedestrian network connectivity is a lack of comprehensive GIS-based data on the presence (or lack) of sidewalks or other pedestrian connectors communitywide. In fact, many communities do not have a baseline inventory of their sidewalks because collecting this data can be expensive and difficult to maintain. However, recent advances in mobile technology and cloud-based computing, as well as increasingly sophisticated crowdsourcing applications, have the potential to address this issue.


A prototype is needed to facilitate decentralized public collection of a baseline sidewalk inventory, which can then be compiled into a central dataset to inform decision-making and public policy. Given their broad availability, GPS and database capabilities, and the fact that they are always “in our pocket,” it may make sense for the prototype to be built as a mobile phone application; however, there may be other approaches. The prototype should enable an individual user to simply and efficiently document the presence or lack of a sidewalk. In addition to the inventory, it may be possible to add data features such as an assessment of sidewalk conditions. It may be possible to incorporate information from FHWA’s Road Safety Audit process and build off of and/or incorporate data from existing resources such as Google’s “walking route” application. This prototype will focus on the creation of a baseline sidewalk inventory, and would ideally be integrated with existing services such as SeeClickFix, which focus more on the identification of spot-specific issues.


It will be important to build the functionality so that the new application links seamlessly to other existing datasets. For example, the State of Maryland has been a leader in the government-led collection of ADA-related data along State roads. The new application could add a public functionality and interface by displaying this type of information (if it is publicly available) as part of a strategy to “flag issues” with the data and thus keep it updated over time. The new application would also begin to fill in preliminary data on non-State owned roads. It will be important to link the new public crowdsourcing application to the automated Public Rights-of-Way Assessment Process (PROWAP), which was developed through support from the SBIR program (DTFH61-57-10-C-10081). FHWA is also supporting Exploratory Advanced Research to develop technology to allow people who are blind or who have low vision to navigate in the public right-of-way and the proposed new sidewalk inventory application could provide an important locally-verified input to this technology once it is available. There are likely many other synergies between an application that enables decentralized public crowdsourcing of pedestrian data and the PROWAP and Exploratory Advanced Research project, which should be explored in the research and development process.


A public mobile-based sidewalk inventory application will leverage and maximize the return on investment in recent and ongoing pedestrian data initiatives. It will assist in the creation of more complete sidewalk datasets, which is especially important given the emphasis on performance measures in Federal surface transportation legislation, and the fact that more and more communities are developing communitywide GIS-based prioritization methodologies that will impact, for example, where they choose to build new sidewalks or other pedestrian routes.


By facilitating the creation of connected pedestrian networks, the application will improve safety because research shows that having sidewalks on both sides of the road can contribute to a significant reduction in “walking along the road” pedestrian crashes.  By tracking the condition of pedestrian networks, the application will contribute to asset management processes and encourage a state of good repair. By facilitating nonmotorized transportation, it will contribute to climate change and other environmental sustainability-related goals. Finally, it will create an affordable tool that would allow students to engage in primary data collection that is of immediate practical value to local, regional, and State government staff and that also leads directly to important planning, policy, and budgetary decision-making processes central to citizen science, a core element of the STEM Initiative.


A small business that develops this product could sell it to municipalities, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, or State Departments of Transportation. Non-governmental organizations such as community associations also might purchase the end product. An application that contributes to the development of a sidewalk inventory will create value that could be captured by a small business; however, it will only continue to be relevant and valuable if it is maintained and kept up to date. A small business could provide this ongoing service to clients for a fee. A small business could also generate revenue through the sale of advertisements displayed while the application is being used and/or it could offer an ad free version that a user or client could choose to purchase.


Expected Phase I Outcomes:


  • Development of a prototype mobile-based application to facilitate the decentralized collection of a baseline pedestrian network inventory data.
  • Development of a back end application to compile data collected into a central dataset.
  • Assessment of other existing data sources and evaluation of strategies to link seamlessly with them (where appropriate).


Expected Phase II Outcomes:


  • Beta testing and upgrades to the prototype application.
  • Improvement of front end user interface and completed linkages to other datasets.
  • Other tasks necessary to bring the prototype to market.
14.2-FH2: Parking-Cruising Caused Congestion & Targeting Public Mitigation Investments

Identifying the Problem


It is a common perception and concern among city mayors and transportation professionals that an enormous amount of time and fuel is wasted by motorists circling or “cruising” for free or underpriced on-street parking.  As an example of such concern, over 70 city parking managers and senior transportation policy officials came to San Francisco in Sept. 2011 to address this topic at a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA/)National Association of City Transportation Officials jointly-sponsored, two-day Best Practices in Parking Management and Pricing Conference, which was led off by San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee. 


Despite such high interest, there is surprisingly almost no research on how drivers actually cruise for parking, which would be critical to understand in order to ascertain the magnitude of this problem.  We do not know, for example, whether and/or with what frequency motorists:  (1) follow a set pattern for choosing blocks to search; (2) pass up a legal space in hopes of finding another legal space deemed preferable; (3) park in an illegal space even when a legal one may be availably nearby, and; (4) aggressively seek or pass up an open space on the opposite side of the street that they are driving requiring either crossing multiple same-direction travel lanes on a one-way road or making a U-turn on a two-way road. 


Despite such lack of knowledge, multiple research studies on cruising have been undertaken, which are premised on assumptions about cruising behaviors, with measurements following such assumptions.  The results of 16 studies of cruising for on-street parking in 11 cities were summarized in The High Cost of Free Parking(Shoup, 2005).  The share of city traffic cruising in these studies ranged from 8% to 74%, and averaged 30%, with an average search time of 3.5 minutes to 13.9 minutes, or an “average of the averages” of 8.1 minutes.  The accuracy of the results of these studies—conducted independently of each other and deploying different methodologies—is uncertain, but it does seem that circling is a real problem where it has been studied.  Of course, studies of cruising are most likely to occur in areas where it is thought to be common, but remedies would be targeted to such areas too, so this bias as to the selection of study sites may not be problematic. 


If cruising for parking could somehow be eliminated where it is thought to be a problem, its congestion-reducing benefits would likely be substantial.  To eliminate such cruising in San Francisco, FHWA invested $19 million in the SFpark pilot project.  This active parking pricing and management project (sometimes also referred to as performance parking) deployed electronic sensors and communications technologies to determine parking utilization rates at all times for on-street and public off-street parking.  SFpark has been using such data to set and change parking prices to meet availability targets (typically aiming for around 20% of the number of spaces) and to offer real-time information about parking availability by specific location.[1]


Preliminary research results from three different studies of SFpark are showing that, regardless of the research methodology chosen to approximate how cruising actually occurs (using the same methodological assumptions both before and after performance parking deployment to determine relative changes), cruising appears to have declined by about 50%.  (Heavy use and suspected abuse of handicapped parking placards which allow unlimited free parking have been identified as the biggest culprit to not realizing even greater declines.)  An additional FHWA-directed study is nearing completion to estimate costs of deploying similar systems for other cities (which should be lower than San Francisco’s costs, benefiting from lessons learned there).


Today, city and regional transportation professionals do not know if or where the problem may be of a sufficient magnitude to merit a costly solution.  For a city or region to make a wise choice about investing in a performance parking system, or indeed any system to reduce congestion, it would need to understand both costs (which, as noted above, will be much better understood after completion of an FHWA-directed cost study) and benefits in absolute terms to make a comparative assessment of alternative congestion-reduction investment options.  Cities cannot, though, reasonably estimate benefits until they are first able to quantify with some accuracy the amount of time wasted today by cruising, so that an absolute net benefit, and not just a relative improvement from deploying performance parking to reduce cruising, can be accurately modeled.  Development of one or more tools is required to enable total levels of cruising within cities as a whole, and specific areas within them, to be ascertained.


Forging a Solution


A number of different tools and strategies could be developed or applied to measure actual cruising levels which would be responsive to this solicitation.  Some approaches may be “standalone,” meaning that they would only require the use of the single proposed approach or tool to determine cruising levels.  Other solutions may need to work in concert with differently-sourced, already-available information in combination with the newly proposed tool or approach.  As an example of the latter, a respondent could choose to propose a tool or approach to ascertain actual cruising levels that relies separately upon a city having or developing good parking occupancy data, which could be combined with whatever new tool or approach is developed under this solicitation.  In support of this example, a few cities already do a reasonable job ascertaining parking occupancy data using, alone or in combination, parking sensors, payment data, and manual surveys.  This solicitation is open to proposals that are either standalone or dependent upon other available information to discern total cruising levels.


Immediately below are a few ideas as to how one might respond to this solicitation.  The discussion is provided only for illustrative purposes and should not be construed to suggest that, in the evaluation process, proposed approaches that are not raised here would be at a competitive disadvantage to approaches that are.


One strategy to learn more about the behavior of drivers searching for on-street parking when availability is constrained would entail first obtaining a very large GPS travel database.  Using such a database, respondents could offer an approach to determine the prevalence and duration of circling for parking (because of its lack of availability), thus enabling its congestion-causing impacts to be measured.[2]  While not required, it would be ideal if a respondent choosing this or a similar approach would be willing and able to contact drivers thought to have been cruising for a follow-up survey.  This would enable a confirmation that what looked like circling for parking really was that—and not just someone who was lost—and also to ask related questions, such as how far away the driver had to park from his/her ultimate destination.


Another possible approach would be to test driver behavior in simulators.  The street network for one or more areas of a city known for constrained and coveted on-street parking would, as envisioned, be used in the simulator, and drivers who regularly or occasionally drive and park on-street in the simulated areas would be recruited.  Traffic conditions and available trade-offs (circling time versus cost for garage parking) should be presented in the simulator environment in as realistic a way as possible.  For example, recruits, while rewarded for participation, would be sent home with less cash (but earlier) for electing in the simulator to circle for parking instead of to head to the nearest garage.


A third approach would be to scale up a technique that was tested in New York City, whereby video cameras were deployed to count the number cars that pass up an on-street parking space immediately after it becomes available to ascertain the percentage of traffic cruising.[3]  This approach would need to be paired with another source of information or another approach to ascertain parking occupancy levels so that the total amount of cruising could be determined.


Regardless of the research approach that is proposed, it is critical that the applicant clearly identifies the source or sources of data to be used, the party or parties that control the data (if it is pre-existing) or whose permission would be required for the applicant itself to gather the data (e.g., the specific government entity that would need to approve the mounting of a camera in public space), and the degree of risk–and the plan to mitigate such risk—that the plan to acquire existing or gather new data might fail.  If a third party is required to gather or provide the needed data, the application should demonstrate, or at least describe, the interest and/or support from the third party (such as by including a letter of interest from such party as part of the submission).


Expected Phase I Outcomes:

The outcome expected from Phase 1 is a detailed concept that demonstrates the viability of one or more tools and/or systems to ascertain rates of cruising for free or underpriced on-street parking.

Expected Phase II Outcomes:

Phase II efforts would include demonstrating a working prototype tool and/or system (which may or may not include the manufacturing of a new product) that ascertains cruising rates in a city (with some, but not overwhelming, preference for San Francisco where the FHWA-funded SFpark program has been implemented) and/or area within a city that is thought to have constrained on-street parking that is leading to substantial cruising.



[1]Rather than better managing existing parking, some cities might instead choose to focus on providing more supply, but it is enormously expensive (sometimes exceeding $50,000 per space in urban parking structures) and its provision at a level sufficient to satisfy peak-of-the-peak demand at no price to the user is very detrimental to the goal of livable community design.  Combining relatively low cost technologies with pricing incentives reduces the parking footprint by flattening peak demand, encouraging parking turnover, persuading drivers to use parking that is slightly further away from their destinations, and making transit and non-motorized access competitively more desirable. 

[2]In the unlikely event that such data could be obtained retroactively for San Francisco, corresponding to a time period in calendar year 2013 or before when parking sensors were operational and thus occupancy was measured and recorded as part of the SFpark pilot, this would be beneficial as it would enable a direct comparison between measured parking occupancy levels and cruising.

[3]A driver passing up an open space would be thought not to have been cruising, while cruising is assumed for a motorist who takes the space.  If, on average, one driver passes up an open space before the next driver takes it, then it would be estimated that half of drivers in that block at that time are cruising for parking.

14.2-FH3: Modular Building Block Approach to Construction Assembly in Place Mini-Roundabouts

Mini-roundabout is a single-lane roundabout with a traversable central island and splitter islands. The inscribed circular diameter of mini-roundabout ranges from 50 ft to 90 ft. This intersection design is suitable for junctions of 2-lane and/or 3-lane high volume collector roads. A well designed mini-roundabout can deliver more than twice the traffic handling capacity when compared to intersections under All-Way-Stop-Control. Limited deployments in the United States show the following types of traffic operation and safety problems can be effectively addressed by mini-roundabout design:


  1. Eliminate traffic congestion at All-Way-Stop-Controlled intersections,
  2. Reduce major road approaching speed at Two-Way-Stop-Controlled intersections to provide more gaps to minor road traffic.
  3. Provide a viable intersection improvement option when a regular sized roundabout is too costly due to costs of purchasing additional land and relocating utility lines and storm drainage system.
  4. Calm the traffic and improve safety for both vehicle drivers and pedestrians and bicyclists.


Mini-roundabout is one of the alternative intersection designs being promoted nation-wide by the USDOT under the second round of Every Day Count (EDC2) initiative. The superior traffic handling capability of this intersection design has been proven at multiple sites that used to suffer recurring congestion and speed or congestion induced traffic safety problems. However, the costs of mini-roundabouts vary significantly by location. At some locations, mini-roundabouts were installed in one or 2 days at costs of $20,000 or less each; at other locations, it took 3 weeks and over $300,000 to construct a mini-roundabout. Such range of cost variation hinders the wider adoption of mini-roundabout design.


The objective of this project is to develop modular curbing and delineation designs that can be configured to form into sidewalk curbs, central islands, and splitter islands of different sizes (like the building blocks used in landscape projects). These modular blocks must be strong enough to withstand up to 22,000 lb/axle occasional truck load; and durable enough to last 10 years without change in shape or reduction in strength.  Ideally, the modular blocks can be manufactured using recyclable material that would otherwise end up into the landfill; the mass production of such “building block” material shall reduce the cost of mini-roundabout installation and make the cost of mini-roundabout construction highly predictable.


Expected Phase I Outcomes:


The desired Phase I outcomes are:


  1. Prove that the modular building block concept for mini-roundabout construction is feasible and has significant cost advantage over the cast in place construction method.
  2. Design and prototype modular blocks that can:
    1. Form into central islands of 3 different diameters commonly used in mini-roundabout design
    2. Form into corner curbs of 3 different diameters commonly used in urban street curb design
    3. Form into splitter islands and bulb-outs (chicanes) commonly used in traffic calming applications
  3. Develop attachment hardware that can anchor the modular blocks onto the roadway surface
  4. Develop draining mechanism that facilitates water to drain towards the designated areas.
  5. Produce complete designs of 3 typical sized mini-roundabouts using assembly in place modular blocks (drawing, shapes of modular blocks needed, number of each type of modular blocks, the completed set of hardware, and the estimated cost).


Expected Phase II Outcomes:


Assuming the Phase I products are satisfactory, the desired outcome of Phase II is to produce enough modular blocks to prove the concept at five to six intersections to explore the level of labor effort and the types of tools needed to construct different sized assembly in place mini-roundabouts, the amount of modular block material needed, and the total costs of such projects.     

14.2-FM1: Driver Fatigue and Distraction Monitoring and Warning System

Driver fatigue and driver distraction are recognized as a continuing safety issue for commercial drivers.  Driver fatigue is a major cause of CMV crashes, but fatigue causes are not well understood.  Distraction-affected crashes were reported in ten percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of all motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2012 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce fatalities and injuries associated with truck and bus crashes.  Driver Fatigue and Distraction Monitoring and Warning Systems have been developed; however, the systems are not always reliable and accurate in the operating environment.  Driver Fatigue and Distraction Monitoring and Warning Systems are systems designed to monitor truck and bus drivers and to recognize and mitigate driver fatigue and distraction with the goal of warning drivers and reducing fatigue-related and distraction-related driving errors. These systems meet FMCSA’s strategic goal that requires carriers to maintain high safety standards.


The Driver Fatigue and Distraction Monitoring and Warning System will likely contain several measures to identify fatigue. There are physiological measures such as PERCLOS.  PERCLOS is the percent closure of the driver’s eyelids. Facial mapping will be used to detect PERCLOS as well as eyes off forward roadway. Another measure uses vehicle kinematics for lane tracking. The system warns the driver when he or she is deviating from the travel lane. Multiple measures of fatigue are desirable to create a more reliable system. In addition, an appropriate human-machine interface will be developed for warning drivers. The Driver Fatigue and Distraction Monitoring and Warning System can also be used to alert the carrier that the driver is fatigued.


Expected Phase I Outcomes:

The Phase I SBIR project should complete a proof of concept for successfully implementing a new Driver Fatigue and Distraction Monitoring and Warning System in an operational environment.  It is not sufficient to simply evaluate currently available systems.  The deliverable must address reliability and accuracy of the new system.


Expected Phase II Outcomes:

The Phase II SBIR project will have a fully operational system successfully implemented at selected carriers.  The system must be reliable and accurate in the operational environment.



14.2-FT1 : Technology to Improve upon APC Data Counting that will Provide Better Correlation to Service Plan

Transit agencies traditionally face major issues in rider system utilization and travel patterns.

First, it has been a challenge to accurately count the number of riders that board and alight along stops or stations on a transit route.  In the vast majority of transit agencies, this has been traditionally accomplished through “ride checking;” a manual process of counting riders with pen, paper, and punch counters while riding a transit vehicle (most often a bus) in revenue service.  Once collected, these data must be manually input into a database and then verified for accuracy to have meaning to the transit agency for planning purposes.


A few transit agencies use advanced methods to count riders using a technology called Automated Passenger Counters or APCs.  APCs remove the need to manually count boarding or alighting riders by using a variety of different technologies to include infra-red beams, treadle mats, visioning, heat sensors, low-frequency ultrasound waves, and other technologies working in tandem with a software-based heuristic algorithm. Typically, these data are automatically downloaded to a database system or the data are removed using storage media such as a Flash Drive and then imported to a database for automatic, pre-set analysis and report generation.


Once collected by APCs, these boarding and alighting data are usually correlated with data from an Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system or other geographic information systems or GIS file such as a bus stop inventory to match boardings and alightings with the specific, fixed, geographic location of a transit stop or station.  Historically, APCs have proven useful to transit agencies for collecting rider boardings and alightings, but APC systems have suffered counting accuracy issues, particularly at high rider load points, and at end-of-line count reconciliation.  APCs are mostly used on transit bus front and rear doors with limited use on rail vehicles due to very wide doors; another issue that most APC system technology have been unable to solve.

Second, it has been a challenge for transit agencies to track the origin and destination of riders.  In only a few cases transit agencies have the ability to accurately and, anonymously, track the origins and destinations of riders; this mostly occurs in a closed turnstile/gated system used by rail transit.  Traditionally, tracking the origin and destination of riders has been done using labor intensive and costly origin and destination surveys, usually using only small sample of riders.  These surveys are usually not directly correlated with rider boardings and alightings.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is seeking exploratory proposals that will demonstrate innovative, economic, accurate, and durable technologies, devices, or solutions to improve rider boarding and alighting counting accuracy and rider origin-destination trip-making accuracy, with special attention given to projects that could significantly improve both the accuracy of this information and correlate them with rider origins and destinations.

Project proposals must include a methodology on how it will use data to quantitatively demonstrate that their recommended technology innovations can provide this capability.

Expected Phase I Outcomes:

  • A viable concept that demonstrates the technology or solution in a transit environment to improve rider boarding and alighting count accuracy and the accurate tracking of rider origins and destinations
  • Efficient and low-cost technology
  • Modular, interoperable, plug-and-play and open source (if applicable) device(s)
  • Technology assessment with respect to industry best practices
  • Feasibility analysis (data proven) for success in developing a working prototype


Expected Phase II Outcomes:

Phase II efforts include manufacturing and demonstrating a working prototype of the technology and device or solution with all of the above listed Phase I outcomes.



14.2-NH1 : Device to Address the Competing Needs of Ensuring Lockability of Seat Belts and Mitigating Entrapment Risk in Mis-Use Conditions

The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 208, “Occupant crash protection,” requires that passenger seating positions of passenger cars and some other passenger vehicles have a seat belt assembly whose lap belt portion is lockable so that the seat belt assembly can be used to tightly secure a child restraint system.  FMVSS No. 208 further specifies that the means to lock the lap belt portion of the seat belt assembly shall not consist of any device that must be attached by the vehicle user to the vehicle and shall not require any inverting, twisting, or deforming of the belt webbing.


Vehicle manufacturers have met the lockability requirement in FMVSS No. 208 by two possible means:  a switchable retractor (switching from an emergency locking retractor (ELR) to an automatic locking retractor (ALR)) and a locking latchplate.  Of the two means, the switchable retractor is most commonly used.  However, there have been cases where children in the rear seat have accidentally activated the ALR mode (often by misuse of the seat belt) and caused entanglement of the seat belt around the child’s body parts.  In some cases, the belt had to be physically cut to release the occupant.   The locking latch plate method is less popular because the lap belt does not automatically adjust to fit snugly around a child restraint system and results in slack in the lap belt portion of the seat belt.  Additionally, a seat belt with a locking latch plate may not always retract properly into the stowed position when not in use.


Expected Phase I Outcomes:


The Phase I goal of this research project is a concept development for a device that is attached to the seat belt assembly that:


  1. Achieves lockability requirements in FMVSS No. 208 (S7.1.1.5) as tested per Test Procedure 208-14 (data sheet 8) and complies with all applicable FMVSSs (FMVSS No. 208, FMVSS No. 209, and FMVSS No. 210),
  2. Is easy to make it lockable – does not require complex manipulation to make the seat belt lockable,
  3. Complies with comfort and convenience requirements specified in S7.4 of FMVSS No. 208 - wearing a lap/shoulder belt should be similar to current practice, easy and intuitive to use,
  4. Achieves seat belt fit according to current practice (5th percentile adult female, and 50th percentile adult male) – the shoulder portion of the lap/shoulder belt fits snugly across the chest (away from the neck and face) and the lap portion of the belt should fits snugly low on the hips and away from the abdomen, 
  5. Stows the seat belt away easily when not in use,
  6. Does not pose risk of entrapment when mis-used, and
  7. Does not introduce new risks to occupants in a vehicle.

The awardee shall develop one or more concepts for candidate devices that meet the above requirements.  Phase 1 concept development should include at least a design, supporting documentation and some simulation to evaluate its potential effectiveness.  Prototypes will be accepted but are beyond the Phase I requirements.


Expected Phase II Outcomes:


For Phase II, the awardee will evaluate the candidate devices developed in Phase I and select one of the devices based on demonstrated durability, effective performance under repeated use for the lifetime of the vehicle, cost effectiveness of the device, and its versatility in incorporation into current vehicle seat belt systems.  The Phase II proposal must include prototype development.  NHTSA will work with the awardee to provide for prototype testing of a successful phase II award.  Test costs can be considered outside the costs of the Phase II proposal.

14.2-OS1: Using alternative energy to reduce greenhouse gas production in the transportation sector

The surface transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to the production of greenhouse gases. The USDOT’s Zero Emission Transportation Initiative is looking to push the transportation sector greenhouse gas production to zero by 2050.


Alternative energy sources used to power vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce vehicular production of greenhouse gases.  Research into the use of alternative energy could look into innovative or more efficient ways of creating, storing or using alternative energy for light vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles.


Expected Phase I Outcomes:


            A technical brief or report describing a proposed prototype that will result in a new or more efficient way to create, store or use alternative energy in light vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles.


Expected Phase II Outcomes:


Prototypes that create, store or use alternative energy more efficiently in light vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles.

14.2-PH1: Develop and demonstrate new non-destructive evaluation methods to quantify remaining strength of line pipe steel and or pipeline fittings

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

The energy transportation network of the U.S. consists of over 2.6million miles of pipelines. That’s enough to circle the earth about 100 times. These pipelines are operated by approximately 3,000 companies, large and small. U.S. operators transport almost two-thirds of the Nation’s energy. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2011, oil and gas exploration and production companies operating in the United States added almost 3.8 billion barrels of crude oil and lease condensate proved reserves, an increase of 15 percent, and the greatest volume increase since EIA began publishing proved reserves estimates in 1977. Also, proved reserves of U.S. wet natural gas rose by 31.2 trillion cubic feet in 2011 to a new record high of 348.8 trillion cubic feet. 

The Nation's more than two million miles of pipelines safely deliver trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and hundreds of billions of ton/miles of liquid petroleum products each year. Natural gas provides for fully 24% of our country’s total energy consumption, and petroleum provides for another 39%. These volumes of energy products that pipelines move are well beyond the capacity of other forms of transportation. It would take a constant line of tanker trucks, approximately 750 per day, loading up and moving out every 2 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to move the volume of even a modest pipeline. The railroad-equivalent of this single pipeline would consist of a train of 75, 2,000-barrel tank rail cars traveling the length of the pipeline every day. These alternatives would require significantly more personnel, cost substantially more, produce larger volumes of pollutants, and would subject the public and environment to greater risk when considering overall safety.  Pipeline systems are the safest available means to move these hazardous materials in bulk.

The Federal government rededicated itself to pipeline safety in 2012 when the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act were signed. It raises the bar for pipeline safety and commits the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to exploring technologies and methods which could increase the integrity of the U.S. pipeline network.


The mission of PHMSA’s Pipeline Safety Research Program is to sponsor research and development projects focused on providing near-term solutions that will improve the safety, reduce environmental impact, and enhance the reliability of the Nation’s pipeline transportation system. For pipeline safety, research is being solicited for the development of innovative technologies and methods for hazardous liquids and/or natural gas pipelines. The following area of interest is focused on Non-Destructive Testing NDT towards quantifying the remaining strength of the existing steel pipeline infrastructure.


Focus Area: Develop and demonstrate new non-destructive evaluation methods to quantify remaining strength of line pipe steel and or pipeline fittings:

The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 49, Parts 192 and 195 stipulates that ASME B31G or RSTRENG be used to assess the remaining strength of corroded pipe. A review of existing burst test data raised some concerns that use of these methods can, in some instances, result in predicted failure pressures that are greater than the recorded burst pressures from actual tests. No burst testing data exist on steel pipeline fittings.


Industry has also researched methods for assessing the remaining strength of corroded pipelines. This has led to the development of new criteria and has extended the range of assessment methods to include numerical analysis. While there has been substantial progress, there are areas where the existing criteria require improvements, including steel pipeline fittings. Issues identified include limitations on the interaction of closely spaced defects, the effects of external loading, and cyclic pressure loading. Furthermore, as operators start to use higher strength materials, there will be an increasing need to assess the integrity of high strength steel pipeline fittings that have been corroded while further validating the application of existing criteria and models for these materials.


Past work by industry and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Administration (PHMSA) has funded research to address these issues in recent years on pipeline steels. The work has included a program of materials testing, finite element (FE) analyses, and full scale burst testing to develop methods for assessing corrosion damage in pipelines of strength grade up to X100. Reports from this work are available at:

Corrosion metal loss is one of the major damage mechanisms to transmission pipelines worldwide. A corrosion metal-loss defect further reduces the strength of the damaged pipeline sections while introducing localized stress and strain concentrations. Several methods have been developed for assessing the remaining strength of corroded pipelines, such as the ASME B31G (B31G) and RSTRENG models. These models were derived from experimental tests and theoretical/numerical studies of the failure behavior of corroded pipelines. The test pipes contained either corrosion metal-loss defects or simulated metal-loss defects and featured materials with relatively high toughness properties for X65 and above. The early burst tests used vintage pipe (predominantly X52 or lower) with low toughness properties. Plastic deformation and collapse of the ligament or surrounding material determines the failure behavior of the corroded pipe. In principle, the existing assessment methods are only applicable to pipelines with toughness levels that are sufficient to prevent a toughness-dependent failure.


The research completed did not include analysis of burst test data on steel line pipe with real corrosion defects in strength grades above X65, as the data were not available.  To address this gap, a focused program is recommended on higher strength line pipe of strength grades above X65 with electro-chemically induced, simulated corrosion defects. These defects can be produced using electrochemical means to approximate real corrosion in the field, as opposed to flat-bottomed rectangular machined patches.


Mechanical properties of pipe metal help define the principal characteristics of its technical state. Heat input during the coating process may change these properties. Developing new methods for pipeline technical diagnosis and evaluating a line pipe’s actual technical state will help ensure the pipe's safe lifetime operation.


Challenge– Proposals are being sought for the development of future guidance and consideration of the background factors described above. The descriptive physical model of impact strength change effect on the pipeline’s actual technical state needs to be investigated. The objective of this topic is to determine the next steps after an operator determines the mechanical properties of the steel line pipe in material grade X65 and above and or pipeline fittings are insufficient.


Proposals may consider the following attributes for pipe, grade X65 and above:

  1. Can a pipe safe pressure evaluation be conducted using B31G, Modified B31G or other engineering assessment methods for failure pressure
  2. Does the yield strength to tensile strength ratio affect the usage of safe pressure evaluations using B31G, Modified B31G or other engineering assessment methods for failure pressure?
  3. Does the flow stress or folias factor provide conservatism when being used to assess the failure pressure of pipe grades X65 and higher?
  4. Does toughness of the higher pipe grades affects the conservatism?  If so, how?
  5. How do combined stresses such as maximum (72% SMYS or 80% SMYS) hoop stresses and higher longitudinal stresses up to yield strength or over yield strength affect usage of these failure pressure evaluation methods?
  6. What other attributes should be considered and their effects, such as pipe coating application temperature or strain hardening effects?


Proposals may consider the following attributes for fittings (bends):

  1. Can pipe bends, hot or forged, be assessed for failure pressure using safe pressure evaluations using B31G, Modified B31G or other engineering assessment methods? If so, what are the limitations of this usage?
  2. What should be the required thickness of the fitting to maintain maximum operating pressures and external stresses? Which standards should be used for this determination?
  3. How do combined stresses such as maximum (72% SMYS or 80% SMYS) hoop stresses and higher longitudinal stresses up to yield strength or over yield strength affect usage of these failure pressure evaluation methods?
  4. What other attributes should be considered and their effects? Fitting grade, heat treatment, fitting coating application temperature, etc.


Expected Phase I Outcomes:

A successful Phase I will demonstrate, through mathematical models and scientific analysis, a determination as to whether RSTENG needs to be modified when pipes with X65 and above.


Expected Phase II Outcomes:

Phase II will include the validation and testing of potential models that predict the remaining strength of pipe and or pipeline fittings.