Texas A&M Transportation Technology Conference

Attendees of the fourth annual Texas A&M Transportation Technology Conference view a smart intersection at the RELLIS Campus on Wednesday afternoon. The intersection is programmed to alert pedestrians when a bus is approaching.

About 200 transportation experts from Texas and across the country concluded their time at the fourth annual Texas A&M Transportation Technology Conference on Wednesday afternoon. 

The conference featured updates on A&M-led and A&M-supported projects and initiatives, as well as a number of workshops, according to Katie Turnbull, Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) associate executive director.  

“TTI, A&M and other parts of the system continue to be leaders in this area, and this was a great way to showcase that with public and private partners and stakeholders,” Turnbull said Wednesday. “The conferences have been great ways to share development progress and research findings.”

She said the three-day conference — hosted by The Stella Hotel — began Monday afternoon with workshops on low-speed autonomous shuttles and transportation blockchain applications. Turnbull said that there has been a research and testing focus on cyclist and pedestrian interactions with autonomous vehicles. 

“This workshop covers planning, designing, implementing, operating and evaluating low-speed autonomous shuttles,” the event’s program read. “On-site demonstrations of low-speed autonomous shuttles are planned during the workshop and the conference.” 

Tuesday afternoon’s general session focused on acceptance of autonomous vehicles: Johanna Zmud from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute spoke on “Not-So-Autonomous Cars: Public Acceptance of Vehicles at ASE Levels 1–3;”  Kristin Kolodge from  J.D. Power delivered a presentation titled “User Acceptance of Automated Vehicle Features;” and Jeff Kaelin from the Avis Budget Group spoke on “The Future of Automation in the Rental Car Fleet.”

She said that some attendees came from Michigan, Florida, Ohio and elsewhere, along with many from Texas. Toyota, 3M, Neology, Automotive News, TransCore and Kodiak Robotics representatives were among those who traveled to College Station. 

Turnbull said that the conference strives to highlight research development at the TTI and update attendees on the latest from the Texas Department of Transportation, other states’ innovations and to share news from local agencies. A university release stated that workforce development and truck automation were also agenda items.  

“Much of the technology discussed at the conference is being tested at RELLIS, at A&M and in the Bryan-College Station community,” Turnbull said. 

The conference also included updates on the Austin-based Army Futures Command. The U.S. Army continues to work with a number of Texas companies and universities, including the Texas A&M University System, in its quest to innovate.

The event concluded with a tour of the A&M System’s RELLIS campus. At the first conference in 2016, Turnbull said, A&M System Chancellor John Sharp announced the redevelopment of RELLIS.

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