CTS celebrates 30 years of transportation research, innovation

Overhead view of cars passing through an intersection

In 1987, a new research center opened at the University of Minnesota that would begin a decades-long mission to catalyze innovation in all facets of transportation, from traffic flow and safety to pavements and bridges.

This year, the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) celebrates its 30th anniversary, capping three decades of developing new tools to help agencies across the US improve transportation systems and provide objective data to inform elected officials on matters of transportation policy.

Over that time, many transportation research projects at the University have served as prime examples of how U of M research meets the practical needs of Minnesotans, in the Twin Cities area and throughout Minnesota, said Laurie McGinnis, CTS director. Continue reading

Highlights from a year of excellence in research

Collage of Annual Report story images

Last month, the University of Minnesota’s annual State of Research report highlighted a research enterprise that continues to grow, driven by greater diversification of funding sources and enhanced public-private partnership.

The report, produced by the Office of the Vice President for Research, also highlighted several ongoing research projects that are advancing knowledge across a wide variety of fields. These efforts are shedding light on youth brain function, boosting computing technology, exploring new mining processes and improving transportation systems.

Below, Inquiry explores each of these projects and their potential to benefit society. Continue reading

Automated system helps truck drivers find safe, legal parking

Along busy highways, finding a safe and legal place to park a semi truck can be a challenge. When rest stop spaces fill up, truck drivers may park on the shoulders of highway ramps or nearby roads, creating safety concerns. Others may continue driving and become fatigued or violate federal regulations that limit commercial driving hours.

Through a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the American Transportation Research Institute, University of Minnesota researchers have developed a system to help drivers find safe and legal parking more easily. The Minnesota Truck Parking Availability System, developed by a team at the Center for Transportation Studies, automatically counts the open truck parking spaces at rest stops and informs drivers of availability in real-time.

The system feeds images taken by networks of digital cameras into image processing software developed by the researchers to function in all kinds of weather and lighting conditions. Following early demonstrations, 60 percent of drivers said the system helped them find parking during their trips. Continue reading