November 2015 Catalyst

November 2015
Transportation agencies need travel behavior data to plan changes to their networks, systems, and policies. A new smartphone application developed by a U of M research team makes it easier and less costly to collect this important information and provides richer, more accurate data than traditional methods. The Daynamica open-source app combines smartphone GPS sensing with advanced statistical and machine-learning techniques to detect, identify, and summarize attributes of daily activity and travel. The app then allows users to view and annotate information at their convenience.
Recently, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have been making headlines for their wide-ranging applications—from aerial photography to package delivery for major retailers—and for their accompanying regulatory, safety, and privacy concerns. In a recent Roadway Safety Institute seminar, Demoz Gebre-Egziabher of the U of M’s aerospace engineering and mechanics department reviewed some UAS-related opportunities and challenges. He also reviewed some of the UAS research being conducted at the U of M’s Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Laboratories.
Freight rail has a profound effect on the economic vitality and competitiveness of Minnesota and, in particular, some of its most important industries. To better understand freight flows and foster the growth of the freight infrastructure, U of M researchers are creating a new online platform—the National Freight Economy Atlas. The atlas allows users to analyze the freight infrastructure at the national, regional, state, and metropolitan/combined statistical areas.
To allow water to flow beneath roads, engineers use culverts. Steel culverts, however, corrode over time, and their service lives depend on the properties of the soil that surrounds them. To help engineers choose the appropriate steel pipe materials for culverts in different parts of the state, U of M researchers collected soil data and developed a series of steel pipe service-life maps for Minnesota. The project will help agencies save on costs while developing longer-lasting infrastructure.
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