Year-long study hopes to promote sustainable transportation

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A year-long ASU study to promote sustainable transportation and, in the process, transform Tempe into a bicycling oasis. Assistant Professor Thomas Czerniawski at the ASU Fulton School of Engineering joined Ted to discuss his study’s goal and potential impacts.

Czerniawski argues there are two stories of transporation in Tempe.

“The dominant one, from the perspective of a car and its promise of convenience, and then a new and emerging story, one that focused on environmentally friendly and affordable transportation,” said Czerniawski. “This project is an effort to give voice to that second story.”

According to Czerniawski, even though car-free living is becoming more and more possible in Tempe, it is not yet common. To promote sustainable transportation, the study is split into two segments: community engagement and data collection.

Researchers are gathering stories from Tempe bicyclists of all experience levels and pairing their anecdotes with a “digital twin” of the city that can be viewed in virtual reality. The date is being processed by artificial intelligence.

“[AI] technologies are improving very quickly, and, if we want the things that we care about to be represented to the AI, so that when it’s making decisions and supporting our decisions it considers the things we care about, they need to exist with in a digital form,” said Czerniawski.

Currently, all of the data is car centric, according to Czerniawski. Through this technology, the study hopes to recreate what it’s like to ride a bicycle in the city.

They use “lidar laser” scanning to capture a 3D image of the city. The system he developed combines SLAM-based mobile mapping with the speed and mobility of electric scooters. Czerniawski and his lab’s student researchers ride an electric scooter while wearing the backpack-sized lidar system and zigzag all around Tempe to capture as much scanned data as they can during the spring.

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