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Center for Transportation Studies


Seminar Series – 2007

September 11

3:30–4:30 p.m., at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus in room 1130 of the Mechanical Engineering Building [map]

"Driver Performance During 511 Traveler Information Retrieval"

Michael Rakauskas[Bio] Research Associate, HumanFIRST Program, ITS Institute, University of Minnesota — Twin Cities

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The popularity of traveler information services using the 511 telephone system is rapidly increasing as 511 approaches nationwide deployment. The use of these services has significant safety implications for motorists who choose to access 511 information via cellular phones while driving despite the potential for distraction. This research aims to assess the risks associated with accessing the interactive voice response (IVR) menu system of Minnesota’s 511 service (MN511) while driving.

The research team carried out detailed usage, utility, and usability evaluations of MN511, and developed an alternative IVR menu system incorporating Mn/DOT’s vision of integrating information from the online service with the IVR menus. Driving simulation tests were then conducted in order to determine the effects of using the MN511 menus on driver performance and behavior, including drivers’ susceptibility to engaging in risky driving behaviors while using the 511 service.

The results of this study address issues identified during the research and include recommendations for future development. By improving the traveler information resources in Minnesota, this study supports the Minnesota State strategy to provide effective traveler services and promote zero fatality objectives.

September 25

3:30–4:30 p.m., at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus in room 1130 of the Mechanical Engineering Building [map]

"Bus Signal Priority Based on GPS and Wireless Communications"

Chen-Fu Liao
Minnesota Traffic Observatory, University of Minnesota

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The Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan transit agency has installed Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment in transit vehicles for the purpose of monitoring vehicle locations and schedules in order to provide more reliable transit services. This research project evaluates the potential use of vehicle-mounted GPS to develop a Transit Signal Priority system that improves the efficiency of transit.

Transit Signal Priority (TSP) for transit has been proposed as an efficient way to improve transit travel & operation. Bus signal priority has been implemented in several US cities to provide more reliable travel and improve customer ride quality. Current signal priority strategies implemented in various US cities mostly utilize sensors to detect buses at a fixed or at a preset distance away from the intersection; signal priority is then granted following a preprogrammed time delay after detection. This research takes advantage of the GPS systems installed on Minneapolis buses in order to develop a signal priority strategy which considers the buses’ timeliness with respect to its schedule, its number of passengers, and its location and speed.

October 9

3:30–4:30 p.m., at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus in room 1130 of the Mechanical Engineering Building [map]

"Mass Transit Surveillance and Early Warning System"

Vassilios Morellas
Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

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NOTE: The audio portion of this Webinar is not functional, however the presentation slides and video do work. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Today’s security and surveillance marketplace is a competitive one, with few clear boundaries between the solutions offered by large and small companies. Researchers from the SECTTRA (Security in Transportation Technologies Research and Applications) program have developed image processing techniques that significantly enhance many products available in the security marketplace. This talk shares experiences gained both in industry and in academia. Subjects presented include  a number of security functions with special characteristics in the areas of background/foreground subtraction, tracking humans continuously between multiple cameras, shadow detection, and crowd estimation.  The presentation concludes with an overview of a custom designed user interface that supports intuitive information presentation of security alarms detected by a large network of cameras.

November 6

3:30–4:30 p.m., at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus in room 1130 of the Mechanical Engineering Building [map]

"Influence of a Haptic Driver Support System on Information Processing, Attentional Resource Management, and Driving Performance"

Michael P. Manser [Bio]
HumanFIRST Program, University of Minnesota

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Driver support systems are becoming a ubiquitous feature in modern automobiles due to their perceived potential to improve performance via the human-machine interaction.  For example, it is increasingly common to see simple mapping systems that support driver navigation tasks, or complex systems that control the vehicle in an effort to augment driver limitations and subsequently reduce the propensity for single and multiple vehicle crashes.  While these systems offer great promise, it is necessary to determine if their use truly improves driving performance, why performance might be improved, and most importantly, are there any unintended consequences to their use?  Providing answers to these questions will facilitate product improvement through an iterative design approach employed by product designers and engineers.

The work presented here will summarize the findings of a multi-year project conducted for a large vehicle manufacturer which examined a unique support system that provided continuous haptic feedback to drivers regarding driving skills employed in typical transportation settings.  In particular, the work sought to determine how the support system influenced driving performance through changes in information processing strategies and how these changes may have facilitated or degraded driver attentional resource management.  Finally, this work sought to identify potential negative adaptations by drivers as a result of support system use.  Collectively, these results can provide researchers and engineers with information that clarifies the nature, extent, and consequences of the interaction between humans and their machine counterparts.

November 13

3:30–4:30 p.m., at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus in room 1130 of the Mechanical Engineering Building [map]

"Voice-Based versus Visual-Manual Interfaces and Driver Distraction"

Louis Tijerina, Ph.D.
Senior Technical Specialist, Ford Motor Company

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Note: Due to technical difficulties with the UMConnect webcasting system, video and audio of this seminar does not come in until 35 minutes into the presentation.

In the last 20 years, a growing assortment of personal nomadic devices have become increasingly popular with consumers. These devices provide entertainment, enhance communication, and even provide safety benefits in certain circumstances. The consumer electronics industry continues to expand their nomadic technology offerings with new technologies, both within stand-alone devices and integrated within the ever-present cellular phone. As consumers replace their cellular phones they will likely receive new integrated features that enable them to listen to music and other audio media, receive and send text messages and e-mail, and access the Internet.

Along with these technological innovations come concerns about driver distraction. A high percentage of drivers admit to using a cell phone while driving. This appears to be an increasing trend, even in light of public awareness campaigns and laws restricting hand-held cell phone use while driving. This seminar will discuss recent naturalistic research on driver distraction, studies of hands-free versus hand-held interfaces and driver performance, and the role vehicle-integrated systems like the new Ford SYNC system can play to provide a safer means of driver interaction.

November 20

3:30–4:30 p.m., at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus in room 1130 of the Mechanical Engineering Building [map]

"School Travel and the Implications for Advances in Transportation Related Technology"

Elizabeth Wilson
Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs

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This seminar presents current research on how children’s school travel affects environmental emissions, new technologies, and changes to education and transportation policies.

The research covered in this talk examines the implications of school choice for walkability, school travel mode, and environmental impacts. The presentation includes a proof-of-concept model developed to show—and quantify—differences between city-wide schools and their neighborhood school counterparts, and to present results of a recent survey exploring parent transportation choices in magnet and neighborhood schools. This analysis demonstrates how children attending city-wide schools may have heightened travel distance, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, and experience exposure to bus fumes.

December 4

3:30–4:30 p.m., at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus in room 1130 of the Mechanical Engineering Building [map]

“Modeling Infrastructure Interdependencies Using Multilayer Networks”

Srinivas Peeta
Professor of Civil Engineering
Director, NEXTRANS Center, USDOT Region V Regional UTC, Purdue University

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In recent years, large-scale disruptive events and global infrastructure challenges have motivated the need to understand the interdependencies among infrastructure systems—and to account for these interdependencies in design, planning, operations and management. This talk will provide a conceptual overview of the infrastructure interdependencies problem, highlight various problem dimensions and sources of complexity, and briefly discuss a generalized methodological framework to address the problem.

In the United States, events such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the massive Northeast blackout in 2003, and hurricane Katrina in 2005 have been characterized by cascading failures among infrastructure systems. Globally, rapid urbanization is producing megacities, bringing to the fore the need to manage interdependencies among civil infrastructure systems at hitherto unadressed scales. While each infrastructure system is an independently functioning entity with distinctive characteristics, it is necessary to capture the linkages across them to address specific goals/objectives that arise in the real-world context. The emerging discipline known as “System of Systems” (SoS) provides a potential conceptual foundation to handle this problem.

In this talk, the SoS paradigm will be demonstrated by modeling civil infrastructure systems (such as transportation, water, electric power, and telecommunications) as coupled layers of a multilayer infrastructure network (MIN). These systems will be viewed as components of a generalized transportation MIN linked through flows, in which the various sources of interdependency include physical, functional, budgetary, informational, market, and environmental factors. A modeling framework will be proposed based on spatially computable general equilibrium theory and the variational inequality technique to address non-extreme (equilibrium) and extreme (disequilibrium) situations.