University of Florida Transportation Institute revolutionizes transportation technology through grand opening of its $2M I-STREET™ Living Lab

In Featured, News, Research & InnovationBy Ines Aviles-Spadoni

The I-STREET Living Learning lab on UF's campus in Gainesville

The I-STREET Living Learning lab on UF's campus in Gainesville.

The University of Florida Transportation Institute (UFTI), housed in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, announced the grand opening of its I-STREET™ Living Lab on Friday. Guests from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the City of Gainesville (COG) Transportation Department, and key industry partners joined UF leaders in commemorating the opening.

The event featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony, an engaging video presentation, and a tour of the $2 million, 4,300-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility.  

I-STREET™ stands for Implementing Solutions from Transportation Research and Evaluation of Emerging Technologies. As a living lab on the UF campus, it connects surrounding roadway networks on the UF campus, the COG, and across the state using various cutting-edge technologies.

I-STREET™ technologies include connected vehicle infrastructure (roadside units that communicate through direct radio communication with onboard units installed inside selected vehicles), sensors, cameras, lidars and radars, autonomous vehicles/shuttles, driving simulators, eye-tracking devices, bike sensors, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and pedestrian safety devices such as rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs), passive pedestrian detection devices (PPDs), and the Travel Safely app. Additional features of the living lab include:  

  • A 2,000-square-foot student village workspace and traffic monitoring area
  • A 1,140-square-foot three-bay vehicle lab and garage
  • A 500-square-foot traffic and signals lab

Speakers at the event included Lily Elefteriadou, professor and director of the UFTI and the I-STREET™ LivingLab; Alina Zare, professor and associate dean for research and facilities at the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering; Trey Tillander, PE, executive director of transportation technology at FDOT, and Jesus Gomez, M.S., director of transportation, the COG.

“We are very excited to have this new facility available for testing and evaluating advanced transportation technologies,” said Elefteriadou. “The facility will help us develop and deploy state-of-the-art technologies and allow us to co-locate students from several departments across campus working on interdisciplinary solutions to transportation problems.”

The Florida legislature recently acknowledged the pivotal role of I-STREET™ in transportation research and development. With the passage of Senate Bill 64 and House Bill 425, I-STREET™ has been designated as a resource to the state. It will facilitate research related to innovative transportation mobility and safety technology. The Living Lab will serve as a strategic partner with the state and the FDOT in driving transportation research, education, and workforce development. It will collaborate with other universities on transportation-related research to create synergy and leverage toward securing federal and private-sector funding, further enhancing transportation innovation and progress.

“The opening of the I-STREET™ facility will play a significant role in UF and FDOT’s long-term transportation technology partnership and further the department’s mission of providing a safe transportation system that ensures the mobility of people and goods throughout Florida,” said Tillander. “The expanded I-STREET™ research and testing capabilities for professors and students will provide effective collaboration with industry partners as we seek to solve some of transportation’s toughest safety and mobility challenges.”

As a collaborative initiative between the UFTI, the FDOT, and the COG, I-STREET™ serves as a platform where research findings are transformed into practical solutions to help enhance the safety and mobility of all vehicles and users, including bicycles and pedestrians, e-scooters, conventional vehicle drivers, and emerging technologies such as autonomous and connected vehicles.

“The unique collaboration between the City and UF through I-STREET™ advances the City of Gainesville’s Vision Zero goals by helping develop and test cutting-edge technology seeking to enhance the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation system,” said Gomez.

I-STREET™ was also created to help transportation technology companies develop, test, and deploy innovative products. In this regard, I-STREET™ plays a definitive role in catalyzing the introduction of state-of-the-art technologies, helping fuel a vibrant transportation tech ecosystem. I-STREET™ has $10 million invested in research, education, and outreach activities, creating partnerships with more than 75 leading transportation industry partners. Currently, technology companies such as Yunex, Applied Information, Bosch, UrbanSDK, and Beep are actively testing their technology, leveraging the infrastructure of the I-STREET™ network.

“The lab’s unique ‘living lab’ concept, which includes open-road testing in collaboration with FDOT and the City of Gainesville, allows for real-world evaluation of advanced transportation technologies,” said Pruthvi Manjunatha, a research assistant professor and manager of the I-STREET™ Laboratory. “I-STREET™ is without a doubt a leader in the field.”

The UFTI, housed in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, aims to advance transportation, disseminate research results, and provide educational opportunities related to transportation. It brings together faculty, staff, and students from diverse backgrounds to offer solutions to various transportation problems.

“UFTI and I-STREETTM provide a distinctive platform where research and innovation intersect with transportation technology and policy. This includes advancements in autonomous vehicles, smart traffic management systems, and sustainable transportation options,” said Forrest Masters, interim dean of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. “The Living Lab serves as a real-world environment for students and transportation experts to collaborate on solutions to address transportation challenges and enhance residents’ quality of life.” For more information on the I-STREET™ Living Lab, visit