Latest News

    The California Infrastructure Institute (CALII)

    August 27th, 2015

    ATRA-295x100The California Infrastructure Institute (CALII) is a non-profit corporation formed in the public interest to be a catalyst for collaboration between governments, businesses and academia. Our purpose is to begin a process that will lead to automated transportation networks (ATNs) that are tested, proven and sufficiently standardized such that local authorities can purchase a system with an acceptable level of risk using normal procurement processes.

    Despite small-scale ATN operations in Heathrow, Masdar City and Suncheon Bay, other cities that have expressed interest in such systems find themselves ‘stuck’ due to the inherent risk and uncertainty regarding what is perceived to be an unproven technology. Cities and other local authorities are understandably hesitant to adopt innovation that may or may not be both operable and acceptable to the public.   While there are enthusiasts who are ready to move forward, often having decided upon a specific vendor’s system, the politicians and planners are both more skeptical and more deliberate.

    Which system is best, or least likely to become a ‘technological orphan’? Which company has the financial resources such that the buyer can be assured that they will be around when new parts are needed, technological advances must be incorporated, or simply to deal with problems as they arise? Have any of the vendors really proven their system can operate as a complex network as advertised? Will an elevated track be acceptable to the public? The skeptics see technical, economic, social, environmental, regulatory and political risks — the sum of which means it is easier to say “no” than to actually move forward.

    The Aerospace Corporation, a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), is a technically competent and technology neutral organization that studied ATNs for the City of San Jose. They recognized that the existing small systems have demonstrated their viability, and could serve Mineta Airport. The vendors had not, however, shown that their claims of being fully scalable and able to expand to serve a larger city had been demonstrated.

    There is a need for demonstration, not on the streets of a city but on a Proving Ground for independent third party assessment and certification of ATN systems. Such a proving ground is where technical glitches can be worked out, standards for fit, form and function established, human factors tested, movement through stations of various sizes modeled, physical and cyber-security advanced, and where public acceptance can be demonstrated.


    A proving ground is where computer models can be extended and pushed to their limits, subsystems can be tested and, where necessary, modifications can be made before use in the public domain. Such a facility would provide training for designers, network planners, operators and maintenance staffs. It would also provide a place for regulators to learn how to regulate such new systems and certify their safety for public use. (An ATN is not a train.) Operations on a proving ground would provide data to extend economic and environmental models, again reducing risk and uncertainty for local authorities and transit operators.

    We believe a proving ground, similar to the ones the FRA has for railroads in Colorado and MIRA operates in England for automobiles, would help vendors prove the worth of their proposals – and such independent testing would just as surely expose their weaknesses. The proving ground would make it easier for vendors to bridge both the technological and commercial ‘valleys of death’ where they now appear to be stuck. With the development of technical and quality standards, multiple vendors will be able to compete, thus reducing single-source risk.

    Local authorities that participate in this process will be able to set objectives for systems in their jurisdictions and can learn how ATNs might solve the actual transportation problems they face. By linking vendors and potential buyers in a collaborative relationship, technologies will not be developed in a vacuum but can be directly related to promising pilot projects in urban areas. The local agencies will learn how to effectively procure complex technical systems, thus reducing risk before large decisions and expenditures must be made.


    CALII is a group of interested private citizens with diverse and relevant professional qualifications. As a non-profit formed in the public interest, we are non-partisan, entirely independent, pro-bono and technology agnostic. We expect to be a reliable repository of objective information and an enduring voice of reason in order to educate the public and public officials regarding new infrastructure technologies.

    We intend to promote, engage in and sponsor research in both the pure and applied sciences for the advancement and betterment of urban transportation and related civil infrastructure to serve a public benefit.

    We provide a medium through which public and private entities – cities, counties, metropolitan agencies, ports and airports, businesses and all other persons interested in the development and deployment of advanced transportation and associated civil infrastructure can sponsor research and development for the public benefit.

    Author:   Catherine G. Burke

    The Missing Links for a Sustainable Future

    July 14th, 2015


    by Chair Rod Diridon, Sr., US High Speed Rail Association, Emeritus Executive Director, Mineta Transportation Institute,Chair Emeritus, APTA High Speed Intercity Rail Committee.


    Ridership is up dramatically on all modes of public transportation especially rail transport. The wonderfully aware and responsible millennial generation have decided to try to save the world for humanity by being sustainable.  They, the Pope, and the vast majority of our population know that climate change is out of control and 40+% of that terrible threat comes from carbon-powered transportation. In addition, in the Sunbelt areas with expanding populations moving more employees and products, traffic is becoming seriously problematic with congestion reaching near terminal gridlock levels.

    The states, with some help from the federal government, are working hard to find remedy’s and are expanding all modes of transit. Light, metro, commuter, and intercity rail ridership is up dramatically. Finally, high speed rail is now under construction in California and serious planning is moving ahead in the north east corridor, Florida, Texas, and from Chicago to St Lewis. But the missing link in those systems is the first and last mile that delivers the commuter from home to rail transit and from the job-end delivery station to the employment location.  Those two aspects seem generally overlooked as the rail systems are planned.

    First, at the commuter-shed end there must be Transit Villages built atop and around the rail stations and parking at high densities.  This is done throughout the world but less so in the US.  The construction of a cement podium a level above the station, tracks, and parking creates a new area for living, a new tax base for the community, and avoids unserviceable urban sprawl. Overlooking the expanse of grass atop the podium would be the high rise towers juxtaposed at angels to preserver sight lines.  The future commute, as with other countries, will be by elevator to the rail station then by rail to work.

    But the other important missing link is the employment-end, last mile which is where Automated Guideway Transit comes in. AGT can connect the rail station in a general industrial and commercial area via continuously moving automated pods or vehicles that provide cross-platform transfer access from the arriving rail system directly to the employment location stop by coding that stop into the vehicle.  These lighter, elevated system are less expensive to build and operate and can use current boulevard medians diverging into major employers reception areas to allow direct access for employees or visitors without having to brave the terribly congested and unpredictable roadways.

    The technology for AGT and for Transit Villages is tried and proven in other countries many of which are now in compliance with the old Kyoto Accords for air quality. All we require to accomplish that seamless system for the US is the political courage to zone the increased density at the commuter-end stations and negotiate with the public for either the tax support or public-private partnerships to build the AGT connectors at the employment end.  If we intend to leave a livable world to our children, we best find that political courage very soon.


    Hope that works.  Good luck!


    TRB 95th Annual Meeting: Call for Papers

    June 9th, 2015

    trbKey Considerations for Automated/Driverless Vehicles on the Airport Terminal and Ground Transportation Network

    The Standing Committee on Airports Terminals and Ground Access (AV050), is seeking papers exploring how automated/ driverless vehicles might affect airport terminals and airports’ ground transportation network. Automated vehicles could change:

    • Airport parking space requirements and more importantly airport parking revenue
    • Curbside zones
    • Internal circulation systems
    • Luggage handling
    • Roadway networks
    • And many other aspects

    Details here:

    Podcar City 9: Invitation for Presenters Abstracts

    March 27th, 2015

    Podcar City 9 November 4-6, 2015: Invitation for Presenters Abstracts due April 30

    Podcar City 9 is the go-to event for the Automated Transit Networks community

    Podcar City is coming to Silicon Valley, the home of technology innovation, automation and entrepreneurship – but also an area with severe highway congestion, increasing employment and growing need for sustainable mobility.

    Podcar City conferences are organized by the Institute for Sustainable Transportation of Sweden and its California sister organization, the International Institute of Sustainable Transportation, INIST, and sponsored by the Advanced Transit Association, ATRA. Podcar City conferences have been held since 2007 in Sweden, Germany and the USA.

    Opportunities for presenters

    The conference provides the prime opportunity for reaching a leading professional group of individuals and institutions in the Automated Transit Network community, and organizations involved in related development. All proceedings are recorded and distributed through INIST, the Podcar City website, and YouTube. The material gets considerable attention with many downloads every year.

    The conference program will address the role of podcars and automated transit networks in multimodal shared mobility; and the interplay between mobility, energy, cityscape and livability. We invite you to submit an abstract for a paper, poster and/or presentation. We also encourage publication in the Journal of Advanced Transportation or the Transportation Research Board.

    Expected participants and target groups

    We anticipate an audience of 150-250 professionals and an additional 100 university students from several career paths. The main target groups are:

    • Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) providers
    • Transportation vehicle and system manufacturers
    • Transport infrastructure engineering companies
    • Architects and builders
    • Shared-Mobility and Demand-Response experts
    • Private and academic researchers and institutions
    • Entrepreneurs in vehicle automation
    • Transportation Network Companies
    • City planners and transit planners
    • Consultants and experts in transportation, urban design and smart cities
    • Business and project developers
    • Venture capital groups and investors
    • Elected officialsWe welcome your half-page abstract to program [at] on or before April 30. For more information on how to participate as a presenter, please visit the program website, or contact

    Ingmar Andréasson, Program Chair, program [at]

    What to plan for when planning for Automated Transit Networks

    March 24th, 2015

    Date: April 22nd at 15.00pm UTC/GMT

    The webinar is to discuss the key aspects of assessing whether advanced transit systems such as personal rapid transit (PRT) and group rapid transit (GRT) are a fit with the application’s requirements and characteristics. Featured expert speakers represent ARUP, Lea+Elliott and PRT Consulting.

    arup-prt-riverThe webinar will last approximately 40 minutes after which there will be opportunity to ask questions to the speakers and members of the ATRA Industry Group.

    During the session we will be covering topics such as:

    • Where to start with the assessment? What information is required to start evaluating the potential project?
    • What capacity can ATN realistically provide? Can they handle surge loads?
    • What is required in terms of right-of-way? How can they be integrated into an existing urban environment?

    You can register for the webinar via the link below. As the room accommodates 100 attendees only, please be sure to join on time! You can participate under your name or an alias if you desire to remain anonymous.

    This webinar is the first in a series of three webinars.

    The other webinars in this series are:

    • May 20th: ”Where are Automated Transit Networks now?”
    • June 17th: “Where is autonomous transit going next?”

    2014 Florida Automated Vehicles Summit

    February 13th, 2015

    2014 Florida Automated Vehicle SummitStan Young, ATRA Past President

    On Dec 15 and 16, 2014 I attended the 2014 Florida Automated Vehicle Summit workshop located in Orlando.  This was the second such workshop sponsored by the Florida DOT.  Although there were several highlights I will touch on, the one that stole the show was the keynote address by State Senator Jeff Brandes (Chair of the Transportation Committee) who spoke on the Vision of Automated Vehicle Technologies in Florida.  I am writing this entry in late January – and as my memory fades on some of the finer points of the conference, the burning vision that Mr. Brandes shared has not dimmed.  It is rare that elected officials ‘get it’ in terms of the possibilities of automation in the transportation sector – yet he did. Mr. Brandes sponsored the bill that resulted in automated vehicle test regulations, and is also a member of a constituency that sees the future in robotics, and is preparing Florida to be a lead player in these emerging fields, not only in surface transportation, but also aerial and marine drones.  Himself impacted by a vehicle crash that touched him personally, he harmonized with significant safety improvements that can be obtained, as well as the increased quality of life that automated surface transport would bring, particularly for a state with a high percentage of retirees that want to maintain their freedom of movement.  Keep your eye on Florida – they get it.

    The summit was not specifically on vehicle automation of highway, but cross-cutting more on the theme of automation in transport in general – though a majority was with respect to surface transportation.  A retired officer from the military shared the path of aerial drones in the military when given the mandate for ‘pilotless’ aircraft in the 1990s.   The pace of development was slow, but in the end their program was a success- however, not as originally envisioned.  The military now has thousands of pilotless aircraft – but they are not necessarily replacing traditional piloted vehicles (though some are).  The majority of the explosive growth was in the so called three D’ – that is tasks that are either Dull, Dirty, or Dangerous – basically task ill-suited for human pilots.  As such the drone program has exploded, but in directions and mission not originally conceived.  I cannot help but think that perhaps surface transportation may progress similarly – we may envision vehicles driving themselves, or as the basis for a bus fleet – however the realizations of full automation in our surface transport may take a form that surprises us all in the end.

    The second day was reserved for demonstrations – and these were notable.  VEEO (Induct Technologies – also known as Navia) demonstrated a driverless shuttle, similar to the systems demoed as part of the CityMobil program.  Mobile Eye has a strong showing with an after market crash notification (and hopefully prevention) system based on real time video obstacle detection.  At about $1000, I was seriously considering it, as a family member recently totaled a vehicle due to in-attention that such a device may have been able to prevent the incident.  Mobile Eye also had a full size bus completely equipped with video detection so as to avoid pedestrians.  Honda had perhaps some of the most convincing test drives.  Similar to Mobile Eye, on board equipment monitored the surroundings in the event of eminent danger – but instead of warning the driver, the vehicle would directly apply the brakes to prevent rear-end collisions with obstacles.  These were only a few of the demonstrations of the various products emerging for transportation.  This all took place at the Disney race track.  One of the most memorable rides was a test drive of the Tesla sports sedan –  one of the fastest production cars in the world, and whisper quiet.

    Well Florida has caught the vision – and is fertile for discussion.  They are not locked into any particular realization – but are open to discuss the possibilities, and understand that in its final form, automation will bring significant benefit to their state.

    ATRA Technix 2015

    November 13th, 2014

    atra-technix-2015Technix — the annual mini-conference before the annual Business Meeting — will take place on Saturday, January 10 at the University of Maryland’s CATT facility, located a short but confusing walk from the College Park metro station.

    Doors will open at 9:30am. The program of interesting news from advanced transit advocates, professionals and enthusiasts starts at 10am. Lunch and beverages are included in the registration.

    Please visit the event page for this exciting workshop to see the full schedule for the day and registration.

    Workshop Invitation

    May 28th, 2014

    ap 020Envisioning Automated Vehicles within the Built Environment: 2020, 2035, 2050.
    Friday July 18th, 2014 – Hyatt Regency SF Airport.

    Geared to Staff from Metropolitan Planning Organizations, County Transportation Agencies, and other Regional Planners.

    In this hands-on, interactive workshop, participants will re-imagine the built environment enabled by automated vehicle technologies.

    Small, eclectic teams of experts combining knowledge of a wide range of fields – city planning, infrastructure and architecture, car design, engineering, software and systems – will collaborate on scenarios. Each team starts with a different “before” condition that presents roadway, neighborhood/district and regional scales, described in words, images, maps and diagrams. They will also be provided with a time-horizon for which to develop a new scenario based on the presence of specified types of vehicles with varying degrees of shared mobility, connected vehicle technology, and autonomous operation. Case studies will include a range of modes of transportation (air, bus, rail) and roadways (freeway, arterial, residential), land use (residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial) and building type (parking, dwelling, etc.), and density.

    Teams will generate, through different interactive methods and writing/visualizing techniques, “after” scenarios in order to think through the challenges and benefits to our built environment that an autonomous mobility future can hold. Each team’s work will be facilitated by an urban designer or architect.

    RSVP by July 11th. Attendance is free. Limit 50 attendees.

    For more details please download the pdf flyer.

    Webinar: Public Transport Complemented

    May 2nd, 2014

    ATRA Industry GroupWe would like to invite you to join the webinar organised by the Advanced Transit Association Industry Group (ATRA IG) on May 29th 2014 at 15:00 UK.

    The webinar is entitled ‘Public Transport Complemented’ and will feature speakers from some of our members including PRT Consulting, 2getthere and ULTra Global PRT providing an introduction to Automated Transit Networks. It will last approximately 40 minutes after which there will be opportunity to ask questions to the speakers and members of the ATRA Industry Group. During the session we will be covering topics such as:

    • What are Automated Transit Networks (ATN)?
    • How can it best be used to enhance existing public transportation?
    • How current operational systems are performing.

    Please note that there is no requirement to register for the webinar: by simply using the URL below you can request access to the meeting room at the start of the webinar. All you have to do is enter your name, or an alias if you desire to remain anonymous. As the room accommodates 100 attendees only, please be sure to join on time!


    ATRA Industry Group: 2getthere, Arup, Berger/ABAM, Lea+Elliott, LogistikCentrum, Podaris, PRT Consulting, ULTra Global PRT, University of Bologna

    ATRA Technix 2014

    October 8th, 2013

    ATRA’s Technix will be on Saturday, Jan 11 9:30-5pm.

    Registration is $35 for ATRA members, $55 for non-members. Registration includes light breakfast and lunch.

    Online registration is available here.