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Center for Transportation Studies

Programs & Labs

Faculty & Researchers

Dr. Max Donath

Director, Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute
Interim Director, Intelligent Vehicles Laboratory

Photo of Dr. Max Donath.

Dr. Max Donath


211 Mechanical Engineering Bldg.


  • B. Eng. (Mechanical) with distinction, McGill University, 1972;
  • S.M. (Mech. Eng.) M.I.T, 1974;
  • Mech. E., M.I.T., 1976;
  • Ph.D. (Mech. Eng.) M.I.T. 1978.

Professional History

  • University of Minnesota: Asst Prof. of Mech. Eng., 1978-84; Assoc Prof. of Mech. Eng., 1984-90.
  • Stanford University: Visiting Assoc Prof of Mech. Eng., 1986-7;
  • Univ of Minnesota: Prof. of Mech. Eng., 1990-present; Director, Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Design and Control, 1992-97;
  • Director, Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute, 1997-present.

Research Projects

Dr. Donath's ITS research page


Max Donath is a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Institute at the University of Minnesota. The Institute's activities are guided by its theme of enhancing the safety and mobility of road- and transit-based transportation by focusing on human-centered technology. The ITS Institute, under his direction since 1997, pursues research in the areas of human performance and behavior, driver interfaces, sensors, vehicle and traffic controls, communications, and traffic modeling and simulation—developing new approaches for confronting difficult transportation issues.

Donath’s most recent research efforts have been directed toward the application of sensors and control systems to reduce driver error and the resulting road fatalities. The focus of his research can be grouped into four areas: (a) improved georeferenced location sensing (“which lane” and “where in lane” vehicle position), (b) collision avoidance and active safety, (c) novel human interfaces for providing improved situation awareness to the driver and pedestrian, and (d) reducing teen driver fatal crashes.

A driver-assist system developed by the Intelligent Vehicles Lab at the Institute has been operational in Thompson Pass in Alaska since 2003. The system integrates high-accuracy differential GPS, radar, and a head-up display, providing visual, haptic, and tactile feedback that allows drivers to perform high-priority snow clearance tasks while operating under difficult visibility conditions. A similar technology was deployed in 2010 on ten buses in passenger service as part of a bus rapid transit system allowing drivers to bypass congestion by driving along a narrow shoulder with only a decimeter to spare. Donath is also leading a major effort with the support of the USDOT and MnDOT to reduce fatalities and crashes at rural unsignalized intersections by using innovative sensing techniques and human interfaces to help drivers (especially older ones) decide when it is NOT safe to enter a high-speed intersection. This new system is presently deployed at four intersections as part of a three-year field operational test.

Over the years, he has advised over 40 master’s degree and 8 Ph.D. students. His present students are developing systems to help the blind navigate through a signalized intersection and technologies for maintaining the privacy of road-use charging systems. Donath has been on the faculty at the University of Minnesota since he received his Ph.D. at MIT in 1978.