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Center for Transportation Studies

Advanced Transportation Technologies Seminars highlight ongoing ITS research

Michael Rakauskas

Michael Rakauskas

The Advanced Transportation Technologies Seminar Series is sponsored by the ITS Insitute during the fall semester of each year. Seminars are free and open to the public as well as to students; participants are eligible for professional development credit. More information about the series is available on the Seminar Series page.

On September 11, human factors researcher Michael Rakauskas of the HumanFIRST Program presented his recent study of drivers accessing traveler information services via cellular phones while driving. The study compared the Minnesota 511 system as it is currently implemented with an alternative system of automated menus in order to measure the potential for driver distraction and system usability. Rakauskas carried out his research in the HumanFIRST Program’s VESTR driving simulator, an advanced immersive system that allows researchers to examine driver performance in a safe and controlled environment.

The second seminar, held on September 25 in conjunction with a meeting of the CTS Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow Research Council, featured Chen-Fu Liao of the newly formed Minnesota Traffic Observatory. Liao worked with professor Gary Davis to develop an innovative new prototype system that improves the mobility of public buses by modifying the timing of traffic signals as the buses approach intersections. In an advance over current systems, which trigger green signals based on a pre-programmed delay after detecting the approach of a bus, the experimental system uses data from onboard Global Positioning System units to calculate the optimum signal timing for each approaching bus. This promises to reduce overall disruptions to the signal system and provide more effective signal priority service to buses, while reducing overall traffic delays. Tests of the system were carried out on the heavily traveled Franklin Avenue corridor in Minneapolis.

The seminar series continues October 9 with a presentation by Vassilios Morellas of the University’s SECTTRA (Security in Transportation Technology Research and Applications) program. Morellas will speak on his group’s efforts to develop a surveillance and early warning system for mass transit applications.