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ITS Institute News Archives: 2001

Troopers say new vision technology could make for safer driving

In September, members of the ITS Institute’s Intelligent Vehicles Lab and HumanFIRST Program tested their Vision Enhancement System (VES) with those who may one day use it on the job. In a patrol car outfitted with VES technologies, 10 Minnesota State Patrol troopers drove a test track at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway and offered opinions about the system that is designed to improve safety under conditions of poor visibility, such as at night or in fog or snow. Safe travel in such conditions is vital for troopers and other emergency vehicle operators.

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Researchers study driver fatigue detection

Driver fatigue, resulting from either sleep deprivation or sleep disorders, contributes to many crashes on today’s roads. Because driver fatigue is a leading safety issue, researchers in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, with funding from the ITS Institute, are working on a system to detect symptoms of fatigue, then produce timely warnings that could prevent a crash. A new report by Harini Veeraraghavan and Professor Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, Detecting Driver Fatigue Through the Use of Advanced Face Monitoring Techniques, presents and tests an approach for real-time fatigue detection.

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Research explores the role of software in critical transportation systems

When the software on your desktop computer crashes, you get a headache. But when the software in question is controlling the tail flaps of a jet aircraft—or the steering system of a minivan—the results can be catastrophic. Mats Heimdahl, associate professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Minnesota, is exploring problems faced by software engineers in a world increasingly dependent on computers. Heimdahl’s Critical Systems Research Group (CriSys) has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Defense Department, and NASA to explore issues in critical systems, and from the Minnesota Department of Transportation to investigate software issues in critical transportation systems.

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Annual Report published

The ITS Institute Annual Report for 2001 is now available in print and electronic formats. The Annual Report covers new and ongoing research, educational programs, technology transfer efforts, publications, and staff news for the ITS Institute’s fiscal year ending in June 2001.

View 2001 ITS Institute Annual Report


Research examines skills of elderly drivers

As people continue living longer, those aged 65 and older are becoming a growing segment of the population. By the year 2020, this group will account for approximately 20 percent of the driving-age population. Unfortunately, these drivers are already overly represented in the number of crashes per mile driven, and researchers want to know why. According to Professor Herb Pick of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Cognitive Sciences, little research involving elderly drivers has been done on the main function of driving–that is, getting from place to place–and the attendant issues of spatial orientation and navigation.

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Sergi named Student of the Year

Michael Sergi, a research assistant at the ITS Institute’s Intelligent Vehicles Laboratory, has received the ITS Institute Outstanding Student of the Year Award for 2000.

Sergi was recognized for his work on developing the web-based laboratory used as a baseline for the ITS Interdisciplinary Laboratory and for helping students learn how to put the pieces of a complex system together. The laboratory, used in the mechanical engineering robotics course, required students to write and test their own software to automate the steering and guidance systems of a truck so that it could drive on a test road digitized in a geospatial database—i.e., a digital map.

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