Students recommend safe routes to school at Chaska intersection

David Levinson leading students during site visit As part of a U of M course last semester, students analyzed access to an elementary and middle school complex adjacent to a busy intersection in Chaska, Minnesota, and made recommendations aimed at helping local agencies improve pedestrian safety and access around the site.

Their work was part of a safe-routes-to-school project sponsored by the Resilient Communities Project (RCP). RCP is an initiative supported by the U’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs that organizes yearlong partnerships between the University and Minnesota communities. This year’s partnership, with Carver County, includes participation by Chaska and the school district.

Posted in Pedestrian, Safety, Uncategorized

International Winter Cycling Congress held on U of M campus

wintercyclingcongress2016-8636-240ppi-3264x4928Last week, participants from around the world attended the Winter Cycling Congress at the Commons Hotel on the U of M campus.

This was the fourth year for the event, which unites a diverse and international group with a shared vision of increasing cycling and walking among people of all ages and abilities. This year, the event focused on the real and perceived barriers that prevent people from realizing the health, wealth, happiness, and equality benefits of year-round cycling.

University of Minnesota professor and CTS Scholar Greg Lindsey participated in a conference session focused on data collection practices in the Twin Cities for measuring winter cycling traffic.

Posted in Bicycling, Events

Shrub willows hold promise for snow fence, biomass, farm income

Researchers using a large red backdrop to assess porosityUniversity of Minnesota Extension researchers have identified and tested a promising plant that has the potential to make the creation of living snow fences faster and more affordable. The plant—shrub willow—also could become a source of biomass and income for farmers.

When planted alongside rural roadways, living snow fences—rows of trees, shrubs, or other vegetation—serve as windbreaks to keep snow and ice from blowing off farm fields and onto roads. They help improve safety for drivers while reducing maintenance operations costs for local agencies.

Shrub willow is easily planted with dormant stem cuttings, has fast growth rates, offers numerous ecosystem services, is adaptable to an array of growing conditions, and even has the potential to serve as a fuel for biomass energy production.

Posted in Environment, Safety, Transportation research

U of M team competes in Autonomous Snowplow Competition

069A team from the University of Minnesota’s GOFIRST Robotics student organization competed in the 6th annual ION Autonomous Snowplow Competition on January 28-31 as part of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. The team finished eighth overall—the highest a team from the U of M has ever placed.

The competition challenges participants to design, build, and operate a fully autonomous snowplow that can remove snow from a designated area in a set amount of time. This year, 11 robots from 8 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada participated in the contest.

The U of M’s entry, a robot named Ground Squirrel, features two-wheel drive, a caster for steering, and a camera equipped with a LIDAR sensor for vision tracking and navigation.

Posted in Education, Events, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Intelligent vehicles, Technology

Alternative fuels will help shape Minnesota’s transportation future

alternative1.jpgThe mix of fuels used to power the vehicles on our nation’s roadways is diversifying rapidly. While gasoline and diesel are still dominant, an increasing percentage of vehicle power is coming from alternatives such as biofuel, natural gas, and electricity. What could this shift mean for Minnesota’s transportation future? The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board turned to U of M experts for analysis.

“The rise of alternative fuels is something we need to keep a close eye on, because it presents a number of issues that may significantly alter our state’s transportation system,” says Adam Boies, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering (CEGE).

Posted in Environment, Transportation research

CTS Scholar Jia-Liang Le named ASCE-MN Young Engineer of 2015

LeCTS Scholar Jia-Liang Le, an assistant professor in the U of M’s Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering (CEGE), was named Young Engineer of the Year for 2015 by the American Society of Civil Engineers-Minnesota.

The award honors the contributions of young members in the Minnesota section of ASCE. Le is an active member of ASCE and of the American Concrete Institute (ACI), and he is involved with many technical committees and conferences.

Posted in Pavements, Transportation research

New Initiative on the Sharing Economy to stimulate leadership and research

carsharePicture a day like this: You use an app to locate and rent a car and drive to a meeting. You check another app for available parking and find a spot at a nearby condo complex (it’s available because the owner is away). The meeting place is rented for the day by your company. On your way home, you stop for coffee with a friend, who hands you the books you ordered together online. You use another app to see if a neighbor has a power drill you can borrow to assemble a bookshelf.

This vision is increasingly becoming a reality, says Saif Benjaafar, Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the U of M’s Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering and the director of the new Initiative on the Sharing Economy.

The initiative was established by CTS in partnership with Benjaafar and other faculty members across the University and is administered by CTS. It aims to position the U of M at the forefront of the development of a science of the sharing economy.

Posted in Events, Sharing economy, Transportation research, Uncategorized
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