Most people are aggravated by waiting in line at the amusement park, but associate professor Yi-Chang Chiu was inspired.
The park's policy of granting visitors ride passes for later entry -- reducing line wait times -- intrigued the transportation engineer. Could similar technology give commuters incentives to help improve traffic flow?
Chiu developed the Metropia mobile app, which gives commuters advanced traffic-prediction and vehicle-routing technology so that they can make choices to help alleviate road congestion by changing their traditional travel routes and times.
With the help of Tech Launch Arizona, he patented the tech and formed a startup in 2012. These days, the app is in action in Austin, El Paso and, of course, Tucson, where it helps track parking lot capacity for big events on UA's campus.
Separate from his startup, Chiu is leading a multicampus team investigating the efficacy of subsidies, carpooling and vehicle-sharing business models in helping transit operators improve users' mobility. The project is part of a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Photo courtesy of Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona