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Center for Transportation Studies

ITS Institute News Archives: 2000

Research shows accuracy of video camera-based bicycle counting system

With increasing congestion on roads, alternative methods of transportation are looking more and more popular. Bicycles, for example, offer exercise as well as transportation, and more and more communities are investing in multi-use paths.

Does the investment in such paths result in high use? Communities who are looking for answers to that question may want to consider a new method of counting the number of bicycles on a trail or road.

As a result of research conducted at the University of Minnesota and funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the system can reliably count-up to 70 percent accuracy-the number of bicycles on a trail.

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State fair exhibit draws crowds, media coverage

Kids (above) and KARE-11 local TV news (below) were interested in the "mini" snowplow on display at the Center's State Fair booth.

Kids were interested in the "mini" snowplow on display at the Center's State Fair booth.

The CTS exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair this year featured a “mini” snowplow on loan from Mn/DOT’s Office of Advanced Transportation Systems that was instrumented with some of the same advanced technologies being tested by ITS Institute researchers. “We had what seemed like a non-stop stream of visitors, especially kids, who wanted to ‘drive’ the plow,” says Gina Baas, CTS outreach coordinator. “A surprising number of adults had seen TV coverage of our plow research and recognized it. We even had several city/county workers and snowplow drivers who had heard about the research at the state maintenance expos or from their co-workers.” KARE 11, NBC’s local TV affiliate, also covered the exhibit on its morning news show.

Zooming in on better electronic images

Digital imaging is one of the most important techniques for distributing information about the transportation system. The use of high-resolution digital images is hampered, however, by the low speed of typical Internet connections. Even with the gradual arrival of high-speed, high-bandwidth connections, delivering large and detailed photographic images over the Internet continues to be a challenge. But current research by Vladimir Cherkassky, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota, may improve the situation.

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Researchers team up to develop new techniques

Freeway entrance and exit ramps are often the chief contributors to difficult-to-solve traffic bottlenecks. Even the most basic entrance/exit ‘weaving sections’ involve complex vehicle interactions that are difficult for engineers to track as vehicles change lanes, cross paths with other vehicles, and merge with through traffic to enter or exit an expressway. Without the ability to track this movement, engineers cannot collect or accurately compute traffic data—such as driver behavior and real-time capacity estimates—and consequently, cannot accurately determine how to improve traffic flow in these areas.

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ITS Institute partners with Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College

The ITS Institute was a partner in the National Summer Transportation Institute hosted this year by the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC).

The summer institute ran for four weeks between July 17 and August 18. The summer institute is funded by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). It provides career orientation and educational experiences to motivate secondary school students toward professions in the field of transportation. The primary goal of the four-week institute is to encourage these students to seek professional careers in transportation by obtaining a college education. Over 2,000 secondary school students have completed the national program hosted by 30 colleges and universities in 23 states across the nation.

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Fall Industry Forum explores personal transportation’s future

The Internet and Wireless Communications: Impacts on Transportation Safety and the Way We Travel was the theme of ITS Minnesota’s Fall Forum, held on October 11 in Saint Paul. The half-day event examined emerging technologies in the areas of navigation, driver assistance and vehicle connectivity, and also explored how these technologies are likely to affect drivers and other travelers. ITS Minnesota sponsors semiannual forums that bring together government, industry and academic perspectives on selected transportation topics. This session focused primarily on technologies aimed at the automobile.

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