A research partnership between Ryerson’s research and innovation group in the Digital Media Zone (DMZ) and the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) has produced a platform which enables cars to be more connected and intelligent. Computer Science graduates Corey McGrillis, Steven D’Costa and Sanjeevan Sivapalan have worked on the project at Ryerson for the past three years. Called CAVALIS, which stands for Context-Aware Vehicular and Logistics Information Systems, the project was supervised by Hossein Rahnama, RTA professor and director of research and innovation at the DMZ, and managed by Gerti Dervishi and Rachel Miadovnik.
“MTO has been a valuable research partner for our team over the past few years and we have built groundbreaking technologies that have been recognized and presented in international venues,” says Rahnama. “With their help we now have a solution that allows cars to become mobile app stores and communicate with road systems, borders, emergency services and even entertainment outlets more effectively. We have enabled developers to build innovative apps for their cars rather than for phones.”
The solution is now being used by drivers, road weather patrollers and snow plows to effectively manage roads across Ontario. Before the project, road weather patrollers were using CB radios or “walkie-talkies” to communicate with each other and were developing ever-growing paper trails. With CAVALIS, now they have mounted tablets in their trucks that are context-aware and understand which conditions should be reported to each entity.
As a whole, CAVALIS has established an intelligent transportation system that is safer and more efficient — it is not an app but a framework for building apps for cars. All of the applications use a proprietary context-aware middleware solution called Flybits that was designed and developed at Ryerson by Hossein Rahnama and his team. The second phase of the project, which was completed in April 2013, includes enhanced features for MTO workforce optimization and management.
The Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) explores methodologies for the optimization and effective dissemination of existing MTO Traveller Information Services (TIS). The application delivers a series of intuitive, easy-to-use and customized services to drivers across Ontario using authentic, current data from federal, provincial and municipal resources.
The team’s context-aware engine performs well in a setting where precision, speed, safety and accuracy are critical to ensure drivers aren’t distracted. The framework integrates with modular apps or plug-ins to serve any number of users – the mass public, a cross-section of drivers and/or government workers. “A key function of this project is to showcase how context-aware computing models can enhance the usability and adoption of mobile in cars,” explains Rahnama.
MTO Road Weather Patrollers tested CAVALIS, using it instead of walkie-talkies, pen and paper. They found the system incredibly intuitive and easy-to-use. “The ministry’s experience with the Ryerson team has been has been phenomenal. The Ryerson team has a lot of energy, a lot of creativity — clearly a team that technically has been very smart and understands the platform well. But they have also been able to bring uniqueness in terms of being able to deliver on the commitments they have made to us. It has blended that mixture of youth and vigor and new ideas with a productive approach,” says Stephen Erwin, head of MTO’s Intelligent Transport Systems.
CAVALIS is gaining a global reputation for innovation in the connected vehicle space, and Ryerson has demonstrated the project at a number of industry and academic events including Mobile World Congress 2013, CTIA Las Vegas and ITS Canada’s 2013 Annual Conference and General Meeting (ACGM) and TM Forum Digital Disruption 2013 conference in San Jose, CA.
Find out more by watching the video. For further updates on the growth of the CAVALIS project and the activities at the Ryerson Center for Cloud and Context Aware Computing, join our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RyersonRC4 or follow us on Twitter @RyersonRC4. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org.