Bullet-train planners face huge engineering challenge

11/12/2012 Los Angeles Times - An audacious plan is taking shape on the drawing boards of California's bullet train planners as they envision a high-speed rail line from Bakersfield to L.A. that will travel over two mountain ranges and more than half a dozen earthquake faults. The crossing is seizing the imagination of engineers who see it as the greatest design challenge of the $68-billion project. "It is the project of the century," said Berkeley civil engineering professor Bill Ibbs.

Rerouting behavior

Chart showing info collected by Quantified Traveler app

11/1/2012 Associate professors of civil and environmental engineering Raja Sengupta and Joan Walker created the Quantified Traveler app to quantify what influences travel behavior and to encourage more sustainable travel.

Building green motorcycles

11/1/2012 Most of the things motorcycle makers call character, like throaty pipes, are really just covering up byproducts of internal combustion—and masking energy lost during power production. In contrast, electric motorcycles are stealthy and quiet, a trait not lost on riders. Abe Askenazi, head of engineering at Zero Motorcycles. (Photo courtesy Zero Motorcycles) “If you get on these electric motorcycles the...

$2.5 million grant to improve traffic safety

8/24/2012 ITS - California’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) has awarded nearly $2.5 million in grants to two research and education centers affiliated with the Institute of Transportation Studies to improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and drivers. The Safe Transportation Research & Education Center (SafeTREC) and the Technology Transfer Program (Tech Transfer) will use the funds to study better ways to prevent crashes and to help local agencies identify potentially hazardous surface roadway conditions.

Slow going

5/1/2012 In California, single drivers of hybrid vehicles could drive in carpool lanes until 2011, but after the state put the brakes on the program, transportation engineer Michael Cassidy and graduate student Kitae Jang found that hybrids in standard lanes slowed traffic on Bay Area freeways.

Diesel truck emissions in Oakland fall sharply

1/17/2012 Institute of Transportation Studies - Recent field studies conducted by UC Berkeley civil and environmental engineering professor Robert Harley and his research team show that emissions of unhealthy pollutants from diesel trucks in West Oakland have been reduced by half in a matter of months, as a result of state regulations that banned the oldest, dirtiest trucks and set deadlines for retrofitting middle-aged trucks with diesel particle filters.

Airport design class team wins FAA competition

7/22/2011 Institute of Transportation Studies - The Federal Aviation Administration awarded four undergraduates from Dr. Jasenka Rakas' airport design class a first prize for their proposal to improve airport efficiency. Their paper, "Collaborative Gate Assignment," suggests airlines and airport operators share gates as well as real-time information on gate utilization in order to reduce the time, fuel and emissions that are wasted when an arriving aircraft must wait on the tarmac for a gate to open.

Eco-driving: Ready for prime time?

6/16/2011 Institute of Transportation Studies - The time may finally be right to sell Americans on eco-driving, according to a group of transportation experts from four University of California campuses as well as representatives from industry and government who attended an all-day conference on May 18. Sometimes called green driving, eco-driving refers to techniques drivers can use to maximize their mileage while saving fuel and minimizing tailpipe emissions.

Flight delays cost more than just time

11/4/2010 - Domestic flight delays put a $32.9 billion dent in the U.S. economy, and about half that cost is borne by airline passengers, according to a study led by UC Berkeley researchers and released last month. The comprehensive report analyzed flight delay data from 2007 to calculate the economic impact on both airlines and passengers, including the cost of lost demand and the collective impact of these costs on the U.S. economy. The report was commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration to clarify key discrepancies in earlier studies.

A Sea Change for Wind Farms

11/13/2009 - Twenty miles out to sea, far from seabirds and boat traffic, a 300-foot wind turbine spins in the breeze. It’s not alone. Thirty wind turbines are generating electricity in something called an offshore wind farm. Each turbine is integrated into a highly advanced floating platform and tethered by thick chains to the sea floor. Electricity flows into a giant undersea cable that extends toward shore. At 200 megawatts, this floating farm of clean energy powers more than 60,000 homes. It’s still a futuristic vision, but ocean engineers and entrepreneurs Dominique Roddier (Ph.D.’00 Naval Architecture) and Christian Cermelli (M.S.’90, Ph.D.’95 Naval Architecture) are one step closer to bringing their unique solution, WindFloat, to life.