October 2019
Far too often, freeway work zones catch drivers by surprise. Drivers traveling at highway speed may come upon unexpected congestion, resulting in sudden braking and the risk of rear-end collisions. Unfortunately, posting advisory speed limit messages near these freeway work zones has not been effective. To combat this problem, MnDOT developed a notification system that informs drivers of the actual speed of slowed downstream traffic near large freeway work zones. U researchers tested and evaluated the system over time in an actual highway construction work zone—and found that it works.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles represent a growing segment of the U.S. passenger vehicle market. These vehicles offer significant fuel savings, but there are tradeoffs, including uncertainty about how long the battery charge will last. In a recent project, U of M researchers joined forces with a small automotive hardware developer to explore extending the battery range of these vehicles—and in doing so, increase both their fuel economy and appeal to consumers.
An alternative bridge repair research project has received a 2019 State Government Innovation Award. The MnDOT Bridge Office received the honor for its use of a novel repair method and subsequent testing. The project included an evaluation by U of M researchers that confirmed the effectiveness of the method.
New University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel got an up-close look at the latest advances in transportation during her inauguration week in September. On a day focused on creativity and innovation, President Gabel and CTS director Laurie McGinnis took a ride in a semi-autonomous vehicle provided by VSI Labs. The Minnesota-based company is one of many partners working with the U of M on transportation research, including technical and policy issues related to automated vehicles.