Greg Jankord: 2019 Southwest Research Institute Essay Student Essay Contest Winner

Greg Jankord is an M.E. PhD Student at The Ohio State University. His winning essay was titled Safety, Intelligence, and Efficiency in Transportation: Meeting the Future Needs of Intelligent Mobility Through Disruptive Technologies.


This past week ITS America held its annual meeting in Washington D.C. where the theme was Intelligent Mobility and how disruptive technologies are advancing mobility to become safer, greener, and smarter.

For over a 100 years, the transportation industry has seen small incremental changes advancing mobility, primarily in the areas of safety and environmental impacts. The core concept of a car in America hasn’t changed much since the introduction of the Model T onto American roads and into the American culture. The average American owns a personal use vehicle that is run on a petroleum-based energy source. However, we currently find ourselves on the precipice of significant change that are already beginning to reshape mobility.

We are now seeing multiple energy source vehicles entering the mass consumer market, testing has begun on mass for driverless vehicles, and data is being leveraged to optimize every part of the transportation system. All these themes were being discussed at ITSDC2019, and specialists across all aspects of the transportation sector were there.

Something previously not thought of as much of a transportation issue, data security, is becoming a major area of concern as more parts of the transportation sector become smarter, automated, and vulnerable to cyberattacks. Cybersecurity basics were offered during the conference to educate individuals of the threats that cyberattacks are now beginning to pose to the transportation industry at large. Professionals were brought in to discuss how systems like transportation management systems and automated functions of vehicles are threatened, and methods for defense and further education. Another change happening in mobility discussed at the conference was how technology, infrastructure, and vehicles are now blending together like they previously haven’t and the role that policy plays in facilitating that blending.

Previously, vehicles tended not to drive major changes in infrastructure and hadn’t since the early construction of major roads and highways with flat hardened surfaces over 50 years ago. Since that time, a major change in infrastructure needs by vehicles hasn’t been demanded. However, infrastructure will play a major role in ensuring the success of driverless vehicles.

The current road system of the U.S., and the world, was built with human drivers in mind. As we move towards machine drivers, these roads systems will need to accommodate both machine and human drivers. Accomplishing that task means making changes to our infrastructure. A final interesting topic discussed at this conference was how these disruptive changes occurring in mobility have the ability to impact traditionally disenfranchised groups. Automobiles have enabled the mass transportation of people; however, this technology isn’t always accessible to everyone due to certain barriers. One such barrier discussed is accessibility of automated vehicles to those with disabilities and how vehicles could potentially be changed to be more inclusive.

All of these topics and more were on display at ITS America 2019, as disruptive technologies begin to change the mobility industry towards a future that is safer, greener, and smarter.

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