December 2015 Catalyst

December 2015
Providing innovative public transit is crucial for ensuring that people around the world—whether in large or small cities, suburbs, or rural areas—have a high quality of life. But many questions remain about transit and its potential to address societal challenges, and many opportunities exist to improve efficiency and innovation. Skilled experts are also needed to take new knowledge and solutions and put them into practice. The new Global Transit Innovations program aims to find these transit answers and educate the next generation of transit leaders and practitioners.
Traveling alone in an unfamiliar environment can be challenging for visually impaired pedestrians, largely because there is not enough information available to them to support decision making. For U of M researchers, helping these pedestrians overcome such challenges is a top priority. In previous work, the researchers developed a smartphone app that provides location and signal timing information to visually impaired pedestrians. Now, the team aims to improve the app’s accuracy and reliability by developing a “self-aware” infrastructure system—one that can monitor itself and ensure the information it’s providing is up to date, even in a GPS-unfriendly environment.
We have long envisioned a future where cars drive themselves and fly through the air. But what is the reality of automation in our transportation future? At the CTS Fall Luncheon on November 9, Duke University associate professor Mary (Missy) Cummings discussed the current state of autonomous transportation and explored how we can balance the interactions between humans and robots in the future.
Mounting evidence shows that certain traffic safety countermeasures consistently save lives on our nation’s roadways. Examples include motorcycle helmet laws, primary enforcement of seat belt use, sobriety checkpoints, graduated driver licensing, mandatory ignition interlock, and automated speed enforcement. But despite the effectiveness of these countermeasures, states that have tried to implement them have had varying levels of success in gaining the support needed from policymakers. A team of researchers from the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs is working to understand why this support varies so widely in a project funded by the Roadway Safety Institute.
Publication Credits 

Publisher/Director: Laurie McGinnis
Catalyst Editors: Pamela Snopl, Christine Anderson
Contributing Editors: Amy Friebe, Michael McCarthy
Designer: Angela Kronebusch
Freelance Writer: Megan Tsai