Lane-departure crashes on curves make up a significant portion of fatal crashes on rural Minnesota roads. To improve safety, solutions are needed to help drivers identify upcoming curves and inform them of a safe speed for navigating the curve.
“Traditionally there are two ways to do this: with either static signage or with dynamic warning signs,” says Brian Davis, a research fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “However, while signing curves can help, static signage is often disregarded by drivers, and it is not required for roads with low average daily traffic. Dynamic speed signs are very costly, which can be difficult to justify, especially for rural roads with low traffic volumes.”
In a recent project led by Davis, researchers developed a method of achieving dynamic curve warnings while avoiding costly infrastructure-based solutions. To do so, they used in-vehicle technology to display dynamic curve-speed warnings to the driver based on the driver’s real-time behavior and position relative to the curve.
On Monday, April 30, an innovative demonstration of a self-driving EZ10 All Electric Autonomous Bus offered free rides to students, staff, faculty, and the public across the Washington Avenue Bridge.
More than 450 people took a three-minute ride across the bridge during the demo, which was organized by the U of M’s Parking & Transportation Services, CTS, the Humphrey School’s State and Local Policy Program, the University Office of Sustainability, and First Transit, Inc.
In January, the White Bear Chamber of Commerce hosted an event focused on the future of autonomous vehicles. CTS Scholar Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, was one of the event’s featured experts.
In this video, which highlights the information shared at the event, Douma and others offer their insights on autonomous vehicles.
To prepare for autonomous vehicles (AVs), states have complex challenges to address—not the least of which is anticipating a mix of AVs and regular vehicles on their roads for decades. During the TZD statewide conference October 26, Jim Hedlund, principal of Highway Safety North, shared this and other findings from a recent report he authored for the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.
AVs are not necessarily driver-less. Rather, these vehicles are classified on a scale ranging from Level 1, which use established technologies such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance but still give control to the driver, to Level 5, which are completely self-driving at all times.
When all vehicles are autonomous, Hedlund said, transportation will become a service, rather than something people own, and crashes will be greatly reduced, since currently about 94 percent of crashes are caused by human error. But predicting just how quickly AVs will be adopted is complicated.
Work zones can be dangerous for both drivers and the work crew—but U of M researchers are working on innovative ways to lessen these risks and lower the rate of work-zone crashes. In a new study funded by MnDOT, researchers investigated the potential advantages and possible disadvantages of vehicle-to-infrastructure in-vehicle messages to communicate to drivers.
“When we started this project, we saw a potential for drivers to become more aware and responsive to hazards within the work-zone by presenting the information directly to them through in-vehicle messaging technologies,” says Nichole Morris, director of the U’s HumanFIRST Laboratory, who led the project. “We also wanted to assess the extent to which this type of messaging could lead to driver distraction, as numerous studies have demonstrated the hazards of distracted driving, particularly from interacting with on-board technologies.”
The researchers began by identifying ideal design guidelines for any in-vehicle messaging system. Then, the team conducted a survey to uncover driver attitudes in Minnesota toward work-zone safety, smartphone use, and the potential for receiving messages through in-vehicle technologies such as smartphones.
The University of Minnesota’s Thomas E. Murphy Engine Research Laboratory has received $1.4 million to research ways to boost the energy efficiency of cloud-connected delivery vehicles. The funding was awarded by the NEXTCAR Program of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.
The U’s NEXTCAR project researchers are partnering with UPS and electric vehicle manufacturing company Workhorse to improve the energy efficiency of medium-duty delivery vehicles through real-time powertrain optimization using two-way vehicle-to-cloud connectivity.
When Myrna Peterson wants to visit downtown Grand Rapids, Minnesota, from her home two miles outside the city limits, she uses the most convenient vehicle she has: her motorized wheelchair. Peterson, who has been in a wheelchair since she was seriously injured in a 1995 car accident, has few other options to get around town.
Grand Rapids, a city of about 11,000 people in north central Minnesota, is like many other small communities in Greater Minnesota. It has limited bus service, especially during the evenings and on weekends. People with mobility issues, like Peterson, face even more constraints when trying to go shopping, get to an appointment, or go out to dinner.
That’s why Peterson has become an advocate for more accessible transportation in her community, and wants Grand Rapids to be the location of a pilot program to test driverless vehicles. Peterson served on a task force, along with researchers from the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and CTS, to examine issues of equity and access to driverless cars for people with low incomes or disabilities.