Research Recap, February 6: Urban Happiness, Electric Highways, Cooperative ITS

Boulder, Colo. is the U.S. metropolitan area with the happiest residents, according to a 2010 Gallup and Healthways survey. Photo by Shihmei Barger.

Welcome to “Research Recap,” our series highlighting recent reports, studies and other findings in sustainable transportation policy and practice, in case you missed it.

Designing Urban Happiness

The design and condition of cities are associated with the happiness of residents, a recent study concludes. Conducted by a joint research team from the University of South Carolina and West Virginia University, the study examined 10 urban areas to find that cities with access to convenient public transportation and cultural and leisure amenities promote happiness. The study also determined that urban areas that are more affordable and function as healthy environments to raise children are linked with happier residents. These latter two urban elements foster happiness by promoting positive social connections, the researchers suggest. The study, “Understanding the Pursuit of Happiness in Ten Major Cities,” was published in the Urban Affairs Review. Boulder, Colo. was ranked as having the highest Well-Being Index score in a 2010 Gallup and Healthways survey.

Electric Highways

Stanford University researchers designed a high-efficiency, wireless charging system that could lead to highway infrastructure capable of charging vehicles as they drive down the road. The charging system employs magnetic fields to wirelessly transmit electric currents between metal coils placed several feet apart. This wireless power transfer is based on a technology called “magnetic resonance coupling.” Wireless highway charging holds transformative potential, considering the limited driving range as a common critique of electric vehicles (the current model of the all-electric Nissan Leaf, for example, drives less than 100 miles on a single charge.) “What makes this concept exciting is that you could potentially drive for an unlimited amount of time without having to recharge,” the study’s co-author Richard Sassoon said. “You could actually have more energy stored in your battery at the end of your trip than you started with.”

Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems

The 4th ETSI Workshop on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) begins tomorrow in Doha, Qatar. The theme of this year’s event is safe, smart and sustainable traffic through cooperative intelligent transportation systems. The workshop offers a forum for participants to share Cooperative ITS expertise made globally. “The field of Cooperative ITS, as evidenced by the tremendous global attention to car-to-infrastructure and car-to-car communications, will undoubtedly re-shape the future of ITS in the years to come,” said Executive Director Dr. Adnan Abu-Dayya of the workshop’s host organization, QU Wireless Innovations Center (QUWIC). The three-day event includes more than 30 speakers from around the world.

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