The Road Ahead with RTC: UNR Technology Partnership

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 2:49 PM PST
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Sponsored: The RTC is teaming up with the University of Nevada, Reno, on a new research project to advance technology in our community. The RTC’s electric and hybrid buses travel our city streets every day. Well, what if those same buses could monitor the maintenance of our streets and automatically report issues, such as damaged traffic signage, a damaged bus stop, or a broken traffic signal? A new technology developed by a University of Nevada, Reno, research group could make this a reality – and it’s being tested now in partnership with the RTC.

Researchers have installed advanced sensors and artificial intelligence – also known as AI – on an RTC bus that travels through the downtown Reno corridor. These sensors allow the bus to monitor the traffic infrastructure around it, and use the AI to detect problems. If damage is detected, an automatic notification is sent to the RTC’s maintenance team. It’s called the Digital Twin project because the sensors and AI on the bus build a virtual copy of the city streets, and identify maintenance needs by comparing new sensor data against that stored “digital twin” of the transit infrastructure.

There are many benefits to developing this technology. It’s important to note that this use of AI is designed to support maintenance and other personnel, and not replace them. And the traveling public benefits because this technology may allow problems to be detected, reported and fixed more quickly. In the future, RTC and the University also plan to test pothole detection and reporting.