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Battelle A Driving Force In Industry, Community

Battelle hosted a national security showcase at the BEST Center in Aberdeen.

Battelle recently gave local Department of Defense clients and internal audiences a look into its newest technology that could be on its way to Aberdeen Proving Ground. 

The Ohio-based corporation held the event last week at the BEST—or, Battelle Eastern Science & Technology) center in Aberdeen, which opened in 2002 and primarily focuses on commercial and government technology projects.

The event showcased 12 out of some 5,000 projects that Battelle is currently working on. Three of the exhibits, which could heavily affect commuting, are currently in the works to be brought and tested in Maryland within the next few years.

Robert Zimmerman, of the Battelle Transportation Division, explained the three different projects that the company is currently working on and also what products are being tested in other states.

"The main goal of these projects is to help with the revenue problem that the state is currently facing," Zimmerman said. "The point of this technology is to find a new way to generate revenue in order to keep up with the infrastructure and maintence of our roads which is currently paid by a gas tax. As vehicles are getting better gas mileage less and less people are paying a gas tax," he said.  

The first project Zimmerman discussed was the Mileage Based User Fee Collection System. This project would utilize a person's smart phone, with the appropriate downloaded application, and would collect a flat fee per mile driven. So theoretically, someone driving a Ford F-150 and a person driving a Toyota Prius would end up paying the same rate with this program compared to both drivers paying a huge difference if it were a gas tax.

"If we could level out the playing field we could get the state the money they need because no one likes a pothole and it's also just fair," Zimmerman said. 

Currently, Battelle is testing some 500 vehicles utilizing this program in the state of Minnesota with great success, Zimmerman explained. 

Another similar project Battelle is working on called the Usage Based Insurance Data Collection System would also affect the way you drive.

This project would use similar technology where the driver would plug a module into the outboard diagnostic part. This module would then detect aggressive driver behavior, aggressive decelerations or acceleration causing the individual's insurance rate to either increase or descrease. Essentially, the driver is in charge of their insurance rates.

"Our concept would be linking this with a smartphone and providing feedback such as how is your driving? What areas do you need to improve on? Therefore, you have a chance to tune your driving behavior to get the discount you want," Zimmerman said.

Battelle's hope is that this project would entice the driver to give up driving recklessly and become a safer driver on the roads, which in return would lower the drivers insurance rates.

Lastly, Zimmerman shared the Signalized Intersection Signal Phase and Time Collection and Broadcast System or SPat. 

This project was developed to broadcast traffic signals over an individual's radio to improve driver safety. SPat would send a signal to 'module-equipped vehicles' as they approached the traffic signal on when the next light change would be. This would help eliminate drivers rushing through a light that is about to go from yellow to red.

"It could detect what the current phase is. Is it red, green or yellow? Also it would tell you when the next phase change would be. So if we could predict that the phase change is going to go to red in five seconds, the car can do things. An electric car can turn off the engine because it knows that its going to stop," he said. 

Battelle's Trasnportation Division staff hopes the current projects being tested would ultimately improve our roadways and also help give drivers more control over their driving and also their insurance rates.

The non-profit organization donates 20 percent of its profits, which is some 6.5 billion dollars annually, back into the community which helps fund scholarships through schools such as . 

"We focus on STEM education," Battelle Media Relations Manager Katy Delaney said. "That's our business and we think that's important." 

MD Continental September 13, 2012 at 05:22 PM
When trying to consider a "fair" method to pay for road use, Mr. Zimmermann points to a Prius and F150 paying the same amount to use the road. Unfortunately, this "fair" method does not take into account the weight difference between the two vehicles. As such, using a gas tax that charges low mileage vehicles more to use the same road is a fair system. The heavier vehicle will cause more stress and damage to a road surface than a lighter one. Would the system allow a moving van to pay the same rate per mile as the Prius? Unfortunately, the worst problem in the government having sufficient funds to repair and maintain highways is the poor fiscal management of that body. For example, how often has the MD Governor and Legislature raided the highway trust fund to pay other pet projects, only to then not have the funds necessary to maintain the highways. Finally, contract mismanagement and overpayment further reduces the "bang for the buck" from what money is left.

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