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ITS Institute News Archives: 2009

Smarter snowplows

U researchers are developing technology that may make life easier for snowplow drivers. An enhanced friction-measurement system helps to determine exactly where slippery patches are on roads so that salt and sand can be targeted to those areas. U researchers Rajesh Rajamani, Lee Alexander, and Gurkan Erdogan are developing the system for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Read full article from UMNews, December 2009


More signage may not make crosswalks safer, speaker says

Presentation by Thomas J. Smith, Department of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota
Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs—Regional Planning and Policy Seminar
November 12, 2009

The increase in the number of walkers and bikers in urban areas offers a challenge for planners trying to prevent accidents. Many cities have installed roadway stripes, yellow warning signs, and even flashing lights (active warnings) at uncontrolled pedestrian crosswalks (crosswalks located mid-block or at unsignalized intersections) to signal drivers that pedestrians might be present.

How well do those measures work? A recent study led by Thomas J. Smith of the University’s Department of Kinesiology found that in many cases, drivers do not slow down for marked crosswalks—even those with active warnings.

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Battery-Less, Wireless Traffic Sensors

Advanced Transportation Technologies Seminar, December 3, 2009
Rajesh Rajamani, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota

Watch Battery-Less, Wireless Traffic Sensors


Crash avoidance technology advances

Two innovations designed to help drivers avoid distraction-related crashes are being introduced. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is implementing a pioneering advisory speed limit system at I-35W south of downtown Minneapolis, using sensors embedded in the highway to trigger speed limit advisory signs. Another safety innovation is emergency braking systems, and Volvo is the first car manufacturer to make it available in showrooms. John Hourdos, director of the Minnesota Traffic Observatory, participated in a test of the new technology, which uses a video camera and laser beam to detect objects in front of the car and stops the car if the driver doesn’t react.

Read the full story from Minnesota Public Radio, November 25, 2009


Ramp Metering for Postponing Freeway Breakdown

As cars queue up at ramp meters during rush hour, the timing of the meter’s signal depends on capacity—a calculation of how many cars the road can bear. Early in rush hour, cars are released quickly. Later, at peak flow, they are released more slowly so the road doesn’t exceed a set number of cars.

Continue reading Ramp Metering for Postponing Freeway Breakdown


Chairman Oberstar visits University for transportation research update

oberstarU.S. Rep. James L. Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, visited the University of Minnesota on November 12 for an update on the latest University transportation research. He met with Transportation Engineering and Road Research Alliance (TERRA) board members, tried out the HumanFIRST driving simulator, and toured the Minnesota Traffic Observatory (MTO), guided by CTS acting director Laurie McGinnis and ITS Institute director Max Donath. “I love what you’re doing here,” Oberstar said.