August 2012 Catalyst

August 2012
Quality of life is a commonly used term, but what does it mean to the average Minnesota citizen? What factors do Minnesotans identify as important to their quality of life, and how does transportation fit in? The Minnesota Department of Transportation has partnered with researchers from the University of Minnesota's Tourism Center in an effort to find out.
A research team has developed a prototype Mobile Accessible Pedestrian Signal (MAPS) system using a smartphone, GPS, and other technologies to help people with limited or no eyesight cross signalized intersections safely. MAPS puts the assistive technology directly in the hand of the user, avoiding many of the drawbacks associated with conventional infrastructure-based systems while offering greater flexibility and ease of use.
To improve safety and increase efficiency in roadway painting operations, researchers at the University of Minnesota Duluth have developed a robotic roadway message painter prototype. The device can automatically paint words and symbols on a road surface while an operator controls the system from a safe distance.
In a study sponsored by CTS, researchers modeled a response modification technique in which a device is added to aging bridge components under repeated heavy loads. The technique could change how a bridge responds to a specific load—helping it disperse weight from a heavy vehicle, for example. Overall, the research indicates that, combined with bridge health monitoring and advanced sensors, the device has the potential to extend bridge life by decades at a fraction of the cost of bridge replacement.
Publication Credits 

Publisher/DirectorLaurie McGinnis

Managing EditorPamela Snopl

EditorsChristine Anderson, Amy Friebe, Michael McCarthy

DesignerCadie Adhikary

Student InternsKristin Havercamp, Nicola Losik

WriterMegan Tsai