One of the predicted benefits of self-driving vehicles (SDVs) is improved mobility and access for those unable to drive. The extent to which this happens, however, will depend not just on marketplace competition, but also on public policy decisions that ensure an equitable transportation system.
This is the conclusion of a new analysis by Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program (SLPP) at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs; Adeel Lari, director of innovative financing at SLPP; and Kory Andersen, graduate student in urban and regional planning. The research was conducted under the Transportation Policy and Economic Competitiveness Program, which is led by SLPP.
As part of its research into the policy impacts of new transportation technologies under the Transportation Policy and Economic Competitiveness Program, the State and Local Policy Program at the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs hosted a series of roundtables examining this question in 2015-2016. The events focused on the impacts of the digital infrastructure, specifically self-driving vehicles.
The roundtables examined opportunities and obstacles for improved mobility and access for people who cannot drive, possible impacts on urban form, opportunities for freight transportation, and broader impacts of the digital infrastructure on the physical infrastructure. Roundtable participants included U of M faculty and research staff, key members of state and local governments, and interested citizens.
Southwest Minnesota has the highest average wind speeds in the state—bad news for MnDOT snowplow operators who often drive in low-visibility conditions to clear roads.
That’s why District 7 is piloting a snowplow driver-assist system (DAS) developed by U of M researchers to combat the blowing snow and fog that often cause zero visibility. The DAS helps snowplow operators see road alignments and features such as turn lanes, guardrails, and road markings.
The DAS was developed and refined over the past 20 years under multiple research projects funded by MnDOT and the USDOT’s University Transportation Center program. Professor Max Donath, director of the U’s Roadway Safety Institute, led the work.
With early warning about traffic delays ahead of them, highway drivers can adjust their speeds to keep traffic flowing smoothly and avoid dangerous sudden stops that often result in rear-end crashes. Nationally, the U.S. Department of Transportation has made the development of smart speed harmonization and queue warning systems that can provide these warnings a high priority.
As part of this national effort, researchers at the U of M’s Minnesota Traffic Observatory (MTO) are working to establish a testbed for developing and testing connected vehicle technologies and applications, including speed harmonization and queue warning, as part of a project funded by the Roadway Safety Institute.
A 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.
We have long envisioned a future where cars drive themselves and fly through the air. But what is the reality of automation in our transportation future?
At the CTS Fall Luncheon in November, Duke University associate professor Mary (Missy) Cummings discussed the current state of autonomous transportation and explored how we can balance the interactions between humans and robots in the future.
A recent MinnPost blog by Matt Ehling, “Self-delusion and the self-driving car,” brings up many good questions regarding the long-term future of and policies related to autonomous vehicles. What safety and liability issues will they present? How will they travel patterns and urban design?
Researchers at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs have been exploring many of the same questions.