Article from the UA News website, and may be found here.
An invention by a University of Arizona professor to increase the efficiency of transportation systems while easing traffic congestion has received a patent with the assistance of Tech Launch Arizona, the UA's commercialization arm.
Yi-Chang Chiu, an associate professor of civil engineering at the University, received the patent for the "active traffic and demand management system" he created. Chiu also is the founder of Metropia Inc., a Tucson-based startup with roots in the UA and an exclusive license to the patent.
The technology involves a citywide "ecosystem" connecting commuters, businesses, employers and governmental agencies to help drive improvements in metro mobility.
An essential element is Metropia’s mobile app, which gives commuters advanced traffic-prediction and vehicle-routing technology so that they can make choices to help alleviate traffic by changing their traditional travel routes and times. Those who make smarter and safer travel decisions earn rewards that are provided by community and business partners in participating cities.
Chiu began as a professor at the UA in 2006. The idea for incentivizing commuters to travel at different times to help balance traffic load moved from definition of the initial problem and idea in 2011 to what is quickly becoming a key platform for an advanced urban traffic solution. Tech Launch Arizona was instrumental in helping to protect the intellectual property and guide the patent application to completion.
Chiu said that the UA was "the seed that was able to jumpstart the whole thing," as his journey from associate professor to company founder and tech entrepreneur has all taken place during his time at the University.
He originally pitched his idea in May 2011 at Startup Tucson’s incubator event, Startup Weekend, winning second place. Building on this momentum and initial seed funding from various sponsors, the concept has evolved into a thriving, innovative company with more than a dozen employees and offices in New York City and Austin, Texas.
Chiu explains the mission of Metropia as "a new way of thinking of how we manage our urban transportation in the future," one that calls for all community stakeholders to contribute to tackling traffic congestion.
Doug Hockstad, director of technology transfer at the UA, says that this is the kind of impactful technology that has the potential to bring about change.
"Dealing with traffic is a huge pain point for our modern world," Hockstad says. "Helping a great UA faculty member like Dr. Chiu to develop and commercialize this kind of technology is another example of how UA research is making its way out into the world and improving lives."
The patent itself can be found at http://www.google.com/patents/US8744734.
The latest news on Metropia's technology is posted on a blog at http://www.metropia.com/blog.