Blog Archives

U of M researchers to tackle big transportation questions with new MnDOT, LRRB funding

U of M researchers have received funding from MnDOT’s Transportation Research Innovation Group and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB) for 15 new projects beginning this summer.

Researchers will tackle a number of big transportation questions: How should our transportation agencies prepare for connected vehicle technology? Are unseen factors affecting safety at rural intersections? Can Twin Cities roadsides be used to grow habitat for endangered bumble bees?

Posted in Bridges and structures, Infrastructure, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Maintenance, Pavements, Pedestrian, Safety, Technology, Traffic operations, Transportation research, Urban transportation

U of M startup named among best of 2016

Innotronics LLC, a company launched by the U of M’s Venture Center based on scientific discoveries made by CTS Scholar Rajesh Rajamani, was named among the “Best University Startups 2016” in August by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer.

Innotronics, based in Stillwater, MN, develops non-contacting position sensors for use in construction and agriculture vehicles, as well as in industrial material handling systems.

Rajamani conducted the original research behind this technology in a project funded by the U’s Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Institute, a federally funded University Transportation Center (UTC) at the U of M from 1991 to 2013. In that project, Rajamani led the development of magnetic sensing technology that could be used to predict imminent collisions in passenger vehicles. The ITS Institute was succeeded in 2013 by the U of M-led Roadway Safety Institute, the Region 5 UTC, where Rajamani continues to conduct safety-related research.

Posted in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Technology, Transportation research

Study gauges whether in-vehicle signing could improve driver behavior, safety

signing1Researchers at the U of M’s HumanFIRST Laboratory recently tested how in-vehicle signing—perhaps presented on a smartphone or vehicle display—could alert drivers and modify their behavior. Led by principal investigator Nichole Morris, the project examined how drivers react to in-vehicle sign (IVS) systems designed to prepare them for transitions to new driving conditions such as speed zone changes, school zones, construction zones, and curves.

The project, sponsored by the Minnesota Local Road Research Board, arose from a previous MnDOT study that looked at the feasibility of using smartphones for implementing connected vehicle programs. One of the questions that came out of that study was whether road signage could be eliminated from the roadside and displayed in the vehicle instead. Doing so could save tax dollars related to sign installation and maintenance, improve landscapes, and make it easier to keep signage up-to-date.

Posted in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Safety, Technology, Transportation research

Deployment of new crash report interface improves data quality, reliability

crashreporting2Researchers at the U of M’s HumanFIRST Laboratory are helping to make it faster and easier for Minnesota law enforcement officers to log the data they collect at the scene of a crash.

Nichole Morris, principal researcher at the HumanFIRST Lab, and her team redesigned the electronic crash report interface used by Minnesota law enforcement officers to improve the accuracy, reliability, and meaningfulness of crash data. Although at first glance these data appear to serve simply drivers and insurance companies, the information is highly valued because it is used by state and federal agencies, as well as researchers, to analyze and evaluate crashes, trends, and potential countermeasures.

Posted in Safety, Technology, Traffic data

21st century technology may change transportation equity issues

equity1As 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.

Posted in Intelligent vehicles, Planning, Public transit, Technology, Transportation research, Urban transportation

Online game Gridlock Buster has a new look

gridlockGridlock Buster, an online traffic control game that teaches middle and high school students about traffic control, has a new look.

The newly redesigned game features updated, more user-friendly graphics and can now be played on tablets and mobile devices.

Gridlock Buster incorporates tools and ideas used by traffic control engineers in their daily work to teach students what it’s like to manage traffic flow. Players work their way through progressively more challenging levels, learning how to control traffic signals and ensuring that delays don’t get out of hand.

Posted in Education, Technology, Traffic operations

Does automated speed enforcement in work zones reduce distracted driving?

automated1Work zones are necessary—and often dangerous. Each year more than 100 road construction workers and 500 drivers are killed in highway work zones nationwide. Driver inattention contributes to approximately half of all work-zone crashes and worker strikes. Though there is consensus about the dangers of highway work zones, the path to reducing injuries and deaths in them is less clear.

To help identify solutions to this persistent highway safety problem, U of M researchers from the HumanFIRST Laboratory investigated the impact of different types of speed enforcement methods on driver attention in work zones. The project, sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, used a high-tech driving simulator with eye-tracking technology to examine how drivers responded to four types of work-zone enforcement, including methods currently used in Minnesota as well as automated speed enforcement.

Posted in Safety, Technology, Transportation research
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