Two Berkeley Transportation Groups Form
New Technology-Focused Research Center
January 18, 2011
BERKELEY - The California Center for Innovative Transportation (CCIT) is merging with the California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH), it was announced today by the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, the organized research unit that houses both research centers. The merge has been in the planning stages for many months and is effective today, the opening of the spring semester.
“The PATH-CCIT union is a positive and exciting development for the two merging centers and for ITS Berkeley as a research organization,” said Thomas West, CCIT’s director for the past four years, and the co-director, along with Roberto Horowitz, of the newly merged center. Horowitz is the James Fife Professor in Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley.
The new center will retain the PATH acronym and 25 years of cutting-edge transportation research it represents. However, in the new organization, the letters will now indicate the Partners for Advanced Transportation TecHnology, reflecting a mission that is foremost concerned with innovation through technology, rather than with any specific mode of transportation.
PATH will remain a UC-wide program headquartered at UC Berkeley. It will have locations on campus, in downtown Berkeley, and at the Richmond Field Station.
Horowitz said that the goal of the merge is to be able to better respond to California’s mobility and safety needs.
“The synergy of these two efforts will enable us to tackle some of today’s most complex transportation challenges through the implementation of transformative ideas,” Horowitz said.
Horowitz said the new group will build on PATH’s research expertise and retain CCIT’s focus on deployment.
“Our mission is to conduct research, but also to ensure that our work lands in the hands of the practitioners who can change California to improve the lives of travelers—that’s what sets us apart,” Horowitz said. “As both PATH and CCIT have done, we will continue to develop advanced technology to make the average person’s effort to get from point A to point B safer, faster, less stressful and more environmentally sound,” he said.
The co-directorship is key to the vision of the new organization, according to both new leaders. “With research deployment so central to our mission, we need both perspectives—of academics developing ideas and practitioners making them work in the real world,” said West. Both of these types of expertise are required to select, oversee and deploy projects, he said.
The new center incorporates much of the former PATH and CCIT research leadership, and will be supported by a faculty advisory team and external advisory board composed of transportation leaders from around California.
PATH started in 1986 as a research entity focused on large-scale technical innovations for transportation. It was first the U.S. research center dedicated specifically to intelligent transportation systems. It has been instrumental in the development of major transportation innovations such as vehicle automation and IntelliDrive, and has produced alumni—both students and faculty—who are transportation leaders and educators around the state, the U.S., and the world.
CCIT was created in 2002 to focus on accelerating the implementation of ready-to-deploy transportation research innovations. Its impact is visible in projects throughout California, including freeway signs that compare and display driving and transit times, pioneering work in transportation corridor management, and the development of mobile phones as traffic sensors.
But over the past decade, both organizations have evolved to develop both research and deployment-focused projects.
West said combining resources at two centers with closely related goals is just smart management.
“The result will be a leading center for transportation technology research and deployment, one that starts with a collective 35 years of innovation research, and also builds on existing relationships with Caltrans, the U.S. DOT, other transportation agencies and the private sector,” West said.
Projects and areas of work already underway at the new center include:
• Maximization of the benefits of transportation data
• Evaluation of the performance of transportation systems
• Development of multimodal integrated systems
• Continued corridor planning and management
• Development of safety technology
• Continued Intellidrive-related research
• Development of technology to support sustainable transportation systems
Both co-directors stressed that change is a process, one that will continue to unfold in the coming year as the two organizations combine their operations.
In the meantime, Horowitz said, “We are excited to continue the work that is already underway and to begin making the new PATH home to the ideas that will transform the future of mobility in California and beyond.”
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