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https://tse4.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.hnjkI_qg_SF6LuITbOUS3wHaOP&pid=15.1&P=0&w=300&h=300Andrew Jackson Beard (1849-1921)

Andrew Jackson Beard lived an extraordinary life for a black American inventor. His invention of the Jenny automatic car coupler revolutionized railroad safety. Unlike the vast majority of inventors who never profit from their patents, he profited from his inventions.

Andrew Beard was born a slave on a plantation in Woodland, Alabama, in 1849, shortly before slavery ended.

He received emancipation at age 15 and he married at age 16. Andrew Beard was a farmer, carpenter, blacksmith, a railroad worker, a businessman and finally an inventor.

He grew apples as a farmer near Birmingham, Alabama for five years before he built and operated a flour mill in Hardwicks, Alabama. His work in agriculture led to tinkering with improvement for plows. In 1881, he patented his first invention, an improvement to the double plow, and sold the patent rights for $4,000 in 1884. His design allowed for the distance between the plow plates to be adjusted. That amount of money would be the equivalent of almost $100,000 today. His patent is US240642, filed on September 4, 1880, at which time he listed his residence at Easonville, Alabama, and published on April 26, 1881.

In 1887, Andrew Beard patented a second plow and sold it for $5,200. This patent was for a design that allowed the pitch of the blades of plows or cultivators to be adjusted.

The amount he received would be the equivalent of about $130,000 today. This patent is US347220, filed on May 17, 1886, at which time he listed his residence as Woodlawn, Alabama, and published on August 10, 1996.   Beard invested the money he made from his plow inventions into a profitable real-estate business.

Beard received two patents for rotary steam engine designs. US433847 was filed and granted in 1890. He also received patent US478271 in 1892. There was no information found as to whether these were profitable for him.

In 1897, Andrew Beard patented an improvement to railroad car couplers. His improvement came to be called the Jenny Coupler. It was one of many that aimed to improve the knuckle coupler patented by Eli Janney in 1873 (patent US138405).

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As a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point ’79), Admiral Buzby understands the benefits of receiving a well-rounded maritime education because of the role that our commercial mariners play in our country’s security and overall economic success.  In our global economy driven by trade through seaports, it is vital to educate and train our future maritime leaders. Our nation’s economic growth is dependent on the skills that we teach our mariners who protect our country’s marine borders and project American interests around the globe.

The U.S. military relies on U.S. flag vessels crewed by U.S. civilian mariners. In times of need, including humanitarian crises and natural disasters, America's commercial fleet and mariners provide sealift capacity to move troops and cargoes - sometimes at a moment’s notice. During Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, over 95 percent of all military ocean-borne cargoes were moved on U.S.-flag vessels and government-owned sealift vessels crewed by U.S. citizen mariners. Our ports move more than two billion tons of freight every year, and our marine highways transport vital bulk cargoes and connect our domestic energy supply. By preparing the next generation with the maritime skills and knowledge they need, we are building a solid foundation to continue supporting our economy and defending our nation.

Admiral Mark H. Buzby meeting student and staff at Davis High School

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The FAA projects that by 2021, the fleet of hobbyist and commercial remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) will reach 4 million.

However, there are several technical, operational, and regulatory challenges related to integrating routine RPA operations in the National Airspace System (NAS). The most prominent obstacle is the inability of an RPA operator to see-and-avoid other aircraft, as required by federal regulations. Approved mitigations for the absence of a see-and-avoid capability, such as a ground-based visual observer or a visual observer onboard a chase aircraft, are not always practical and frequently limit the number and type of missions RPAs can execute.

“Without a human pilot onboard, every drone is by definition incapable of complying with the federal regulation to see-and-avoid other aircraft,” said Jason Glaneuski, Chief of the Air Traffic Management Systems Division at U.S. DOT’s Volpe Center. “Our team has spent several years tackling this challenge, researching solutions for drone operators that fulfill their operational needs, while also complying with FAA’s rigorous safety standards.” 

The Volpe Center, in partnership with the U.S. Air Force (USAF), MITRE, and Raytheon, is developing a Ground-Based-Detect-and-Avoid (GBDAA) proof-of-concept (POC) capability that detects aircraft in the vicinity of an RPA by fusing aircraft position data from many types of ground-based radars and displaying those positions in real-time. This enables RPA operators to detect-and-avoid traffic at an equivalent level of safety as a manned aircraft pilot’s ability to see-and-avoid traffic. This work furthers the transportation and logistics enterprise by advancing capabilities to facilitate routine operations of RPA within the NAS.

Ground-Based-Detect-and -Avoid Radar Screen

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Black History Month Banner

Black History Month celebrates African-Americans’ contributions to American history and development.  This month the U.S. Department of Transportation will feature biographies of African American inventors and pioneers whose courage, inspiration and determination helped transform the transportation industry of America.

Frederick McKinley Jones (May 17, 1893- February 21, 1961)

http://stmedia.startribune.com/images/ows_145600567530989.jpgFrederick Jones was born in Ohio in 1893. After a challenging childhood, he taught himself mechanical and electrical engineering, inventing a range of devices relating to refrigeration, sound and automobiles.

Frederick Jones had talent for and an interest in mechanics. He read extensively on the subject in addition to his daily work, educating himself in his spare time. By the time he was twenty, Jones was able to secure an engineering license in Minnesota. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I where he was often called upon to make repairs to machines and other equipment. After the war, he returned to the farm.

It was on the Hallock farm that Jones educated himself further in electronics. When the town decided to fund a new radio station, Jones built the transmitter needed to broadcast its programming. He also developed a device to combine moving pictures with sound. Local businessman Joseph A. Numero subsequently hired Jones to improve the sound equipment he produced for the film industry.

Jones continued to expand his interests in the 1930s. He designed and patented a portable air-cooling unit for trucks carrying perishable food. Forming a partnership with Numero, Jones founded the U.S. Thermo Control Company. The company grew exponentially during World War II, helping to preserve blood, medicine and food. By 1949, U.S. Thermo Control was worth millions of dollars.

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Black History Month Banner

Black History Month celebrates African-Americans’ contributions to American history and development.  This month the U.S. Department of Transportation will feature biographies of African American inventors and pioneers whose courage, inspiration and determination helped transform the transportation industry of America.

Granville T. Woods Portrait

Granville T. Woods (April 23, 1856 – January 30, 1910)

Born in Columbus, Ohio, on April 23, 1856, Granville T. Woods dedicated his life to developing a variety of inventions relating to the railroad industry. To some, he was known as the "Black Edison, both great inventors of their time. Granville T. Woods invented more than a dozen devices to improve electric railway cars and much more for controlling the flow of electricity. His most noted invention was a system for letting the engineer of a train know how close his train was to others. This device helped cut down accidents and collisions between trains.

Granville T. Woods literally learned his skills on the job. Attending school in Columbus until age 10, he served an apprenticeship in a machine shop and learned the trades of machinist and blacksmith. During his youth, he also went to night school and took private lessons. Although he had to leave formal school at age ten, Granville T. Woods realized that learning and education were essential to developing critical skills that would allow him to express his creativity with machinery.

In 1872, Granville T. Woods obtained a job as a fireman on the Danville and Southern railroad in Missouri, eventually becoming an engineer. He invested his spare time in studying electronics. In 1874, Granville Woods moved to Springfield, Illinois, and worked in a rolling mill. In 1878, he took a job aboard the Ironsides, a British steamer, and, within two years, became Chief Engineer of the steamer. Finally, his travels and experiences led him to settle in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became the person most responsible for modernizing the railroad.Black History Month celebrates African-Americans’ contributions to American history and development.  This month the U.S. Department of Transportation will feature biographies of African American inventors and pioneers whose courage, inspiration and determination helped transform the transportation industry of America.

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Black History Month celebrates African-Americans’ contributions to American history and development.  This month the U.S. Department of Transportation will feature biographies of African American inventors and pioneers whose courage, inspiration and determination helped transform the transportation industry of America.

Elijah McCoyElijah J. McCoy (May 2, 1844 – October 10, 1929)

Beginning at a young age, Elijah McCoy showed a strong interest in mechanics. His parents arranged for him to travel to Scotland at the age of 15 for an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering. He returned home to Michigan after becoming certified as a mechanical engineer.

Despite his qualifications, McCoy was unable to find work as an engineer in the United States due to racial barriers; skilled professional positions were not available for African Americans at the time, regardless of their training or background. McCoy accepted a position as a fireman and oiler for the Michigan Central Railroad. It was in this line of work that he developed his first major inventions. After studying the inefficiencies inherent in the existing system of oiling axles, McCoy invented a lubricating cup that distributed oil evenly over the engine's moving parts. He obtained a patent for this invention, which allowed trains to run continuously for long periods of time without pausing for maintenance.

McCoy continued to refine his devices, receiving nearly 60 patents over the course of his life. While the majority of his inventions related to lubrication systems, he also developed designs for an ironing board, a lawn sprinkler, and other machines. Although McCoy's achievements were recognized in his own time, his name did not appear on the majority of the products that he devised. Lacking the capital with which to manufacture his lubricators in large numbers, he typically assigned his patent rights to his employers or sold them to investors. In 1920, toward the end of his life, McCoy formed the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company to produce lubricators bearing his name.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation was named last Friday by the Partnership for Public Service (PPS) as one of the top four “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.”  This is an improvement from 2016, when DOT ranked 8th and a leap from 2009, when the department ranked last among large federal agencies.

Credit goes to everyone at DOT who contributes to a workplace atmosphere of positive and productive collaboration in achieving the Department’s vital mission on behalf of the American people! 

The annual rankings and supportive data provide insights into employee views on a wide range of issues – from leadership to strategic management to teamwork.  According to PPS, DOT's 2017 employee engagement score is 67.6, an improvement of 4.2 points since last year.   The DOT baseball fans in Washington have even more reasons to enjoy working here since Nationals Park is a block away and the team had a pretty good season.  Maybe if the Nationals win the World Series this year, DOT will surpass NASA as the #1 Best Place to Work.  Spring training begins this month and optimism abounds!

I hope all of us at the Department will take pride in this improved ranking and in being part of an organization devoted to helping save lives and improving quality of life through better transportation systems.  I am really proud of our Department!

Best Places to Work Award

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For decades, transit agencies have provided safe and efficient service on subways, light rail systems, buses and other modes. Transit agencies today are working to improve their performance and meet riders’ evolving needs with technology-based innovations.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) continues to support Secretary Elaine L. Chao’s priority regarding innovation across the transit industry through its Research, Innovation and Deployment Office. Assisting the transit industry in adopting tried – and proven – technologies sets the stage for safer, more efficient public transportation across the nation.

FTA, along with the other modes at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), is working to support research into autonomous vehicle technologies.  DOT recently announced the release of automated vehicle requests for public comment, including two FTA requests related to automated bus and transit vehicle automation. Comments received will help USDOT identify barriers to innovation, help shape future initiatives supporting bus automation demonstration projects and inform technical assistance on advancing automated vehicle technologies.

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Did you know that Americans took 10.2 billion trips on public transportation in 2016 and that transit ridership has increased 26 percent during the last 20 years?

These facts come from the National Transit Database (NTD), a trove of statistics and information about public transportation in the United States. Established by Congress in 1974, the NTD is the nation’s primary source of publicly available data on transit systems across the country. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) manages the NTD and uses the data to allocate Federal funds. In addition to FTA, a variety of groups and individuals use the database, including state and local governments, researchers and students, the media, and industry associations.

FTA uses data from the NTD to distribute federal funds to transit agencies according to formulas set by Congress that are based on ridership and population.

The NTD is available here on FTA’s website, along with instructions for use. We encourage you to use it to better understand public transportation in the U.S.

Photo of bus, ferry, metro car and street car, all modes of public transportation

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Instead of cars driving as individual units on highways, automated driving systems (ADS) allow cars to connect and exchange information, enabling coordinated movements. That can mean more capacity on roads, and faster, more efficient travel.

In one study, a car platooning proof-of-concept with five Cadillacs with automated longitudinal control was tested and evaluated at Aberdeen Proving Ground, a U.S. Army test facility in Maryland.

The study was conducted by experts from the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC), U.S. DOT’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, and the Aberdeen Test Center.

“We are focusing on the cooperative side of automated driving systems,“ said Taylor Lochrane, PhD, Cooperative Automation Research Program technical manager at TFHRC. “If vehicles can communicate with each other and the infrastructure, we can use that capability and coordinate traffic more efficiently and save our economy billions in wasted time and fuel.”

How Automated Driving Systems Enable Car Platooning

For a vehicle to platoon, an onboard computer is  connected to a vehicle-to-vehicle communications device that receives and transmits data using Dedicated Short-Range Communications.

“By adding connectivity between cars, we can manage traffic with clusters of vehicles instead of individual vehicles,” said Wassim Najm, PhD, chief of Advanced Vehicle Technology at the Volpe Center. “With better traffic management, we can improve mobility.”

At the Aberdeen site, the test cars successfully shared information, such as whether they needed to speed up or slow down to follow the lead vehicle at a desired distance. Najm’s team piloted the technical and analytical work for testing and evaluating the car platooning proof-of-concept.

“We built the test procedures for the track to test the vehicles using vehicle-to-vehicle communications,” said Najm. “We now have a better understanding of the performance parameters and the test procedures needed for advancing car platooning technology.”

Lochrane’s team programmed the onboard computers with platooning algorithms developed by FHWA and partners from earlier projects. Vehicle computers control braking and acceleration, and also take in radar data—part of adaptive cruise control—to create Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control.

“The followers follow the vehicle in front and listen to all the other vehicles in the stream and that’s how they all communicate—the computers are able to compute the current and predicted trajectory of the vehicle to maintain their position,” said Lochrane.

Image of five vehicles platooning in a line.

A group of self-driving cars successfully formed a platoon during a field test at Aberdeen Proving Ground, a U.S. Army test facility in Maryland. (FHWA photo)

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