A new Ohio State student organization created to enhance connectivity and mobility of transportation is now on campus.
The organization, called Smart Columbus, shares the vision of the Smart City challenge — an initiative to improve transportation and sustainability. While collaborating with Ohio State’s Center for Automotive Research, Transportation and Traffic Management, the student group strives to make campus transportation cleaner, safer and more efficient by incorporating smart technologies.
“The goal of this organization is to improve students’ lives,” said Danny Freudiger, a graduate student in mechanical engineering who leads the organization. “We want students to feel more connected to each other, to the infrastructure, to the buildings and to the vehicles.”
The organization uses campus as a test bed, where solutions developed there can be applied to a larger scale, said Maryn Weimer, the senior associate director of CAR and adviser to the student group.
“Campus is humongous. There is so much that goes on within this tight, confined space,” Weimer said. “It’s almost a city within a city.”
One ongoing project in the organization is creating a mobile app to increase efficiency of the patient courtesy shuttle — a campus service that transports patients between Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center and other campus locations.
Different from the courtesy shuttle operations, the app would send a signal to the shuttles immediately after a request, which shortens the process, Freudiger said.
Smart Columbus also is developing electric bikes and a charging hub on campus, as well as a parking area for the bicycles. The group’s goal is to promote bike sharing on campus and promote it as an alternative form of transportation.
The biggest advantage of e-bikes is that they are fast, energy saving and environmentally friendly, Freudiger said.
“One of the concepts of the Smart City is to take cars off the road,” Freudiger said. “That reduces emissions, traffic congestion and accidents.”
In the future, the organization will work with industry partners to develop and implement autonomous vehicles and communication technology on campus.
“We are figuring out how we can utilize the expertise at Ohio State to support these different initiatives,” Weimer said. “All of that really shapes and changes the landscape of mobility.”