State-Of-The-Art Vehicle to Drive CAV Research

This article was originally published in Catalyst, August 2021.

With the arrival of its fully outfitted autonomous vehicle in July, the University’s MnCAV Ecosystem is ready to facilitate research and testing of sensing technologies, vehicle control, platooning, traffic patterns, and other topics related to connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).

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New Project: Comparison of Compost and Proprietary Soil Amendments for Vegetation Establishment

After road construction, the adjacent disturbed soil has a diminished capacity to sustain vegetation, overall soil health is compromised from soil disturbance and there is an increased risk for erosion.

Soil quality in these areas can be replenished by importing topsoil (the preferred choice) or using organic composts. If organic compost is not available, proprietary soil amendments provide a cost-effective alternative. But information regarding the effects, mix ratios and application techniques for these products is limited. Research is needed to better understand optimal organic compost ratios and how to integrate these amendments to improve soil quality.

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New Project: Tool to Estimate the Safety Impact of Vehicle Levels of Automation on Minnesota Roads

While commercially available self-driving vehicles may still be decades away, an increasing number of vehicles on the market offer advance driver assistance systems (ADAS). For example, ADAS features include adaptive cruise control, steering automation, and hands-free steering.

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New Project: MnDOT Haul and Detour Routes – Impacts on Local Roads

When local roads are temporarily used as haul roads or as detour routes, MnDOT compensates local agencies. However, local agencies believe the compensation model is outdated and inadequate, especially for local roads not built for large volumes of heavy vehicles. The methodology also has not been updated to reflect that local agencies have invested more local property and sales tax revenue into their systems beyond the gas tax.

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Research Pays Off Webinar Series: Performance Benefits of Fiber-Reinforced Thin Concrete Pavement and Overlays

The National Road Research Alliance (NRRA) is hosting “Performance Benefits of Fiber-Reinforced Thin Concrete Pavement and Overlays” on September 21 at 10 a.m. CST, presented by Manik Barman, University of Minnesota Duluth.

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New Project: Pavement Marking/Colored Pavement Friction Differential and Product Durability

Pavement markings contain glass media to provide retroreflectivity. These markings are slipperier than surrounding pavement. The sudden difference in friction between pavement and pavement markings can create a safety hazard for pedestrians (including those with disabilities), bicyclists and motorcyclists, especially during wet conditions.

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New Project: Benefits of Preventive Concrete Pavement Maintenance

Early preventive maintenance of concrete pavement—maintenance performed in the first five to seven years of pavement life—is a low-cost way to increase pavement service life. But no quantitative evaluations of service life extension have been conducted that compare early intervention to late or no intervention.

Without these comparisons, meaningful determinations of pavement life extension operations cannot be made. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) research has found that agency projects focused on the end-of-service life may redirect funds from rehabilitation projects that could improve overall system quality.

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New Project: Performance Evaluation of Detection Technologies for Signalized Intersections in Minnesota

Intersections can be controlled through pretimed systems or vehicle-actuated systems, which detect the presence of a vehicle. Good vehicle detection is the foundation of actuated systems. While loop detectors have been effective workhorses of vehicle detection for MnDOT, changes in vehicle fleets—for example, the use of nonferrous materials—and an increased need to detect vulnerable road users has resulted in an increased use of nonintrusive detection technologies (NIT).

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New Project: Mobile-Device Data, Non-Motorized Traffic Monitoring, and Estimation of Annual Average Daily Bicyclist and Pedestrian Flows

Understanding pedestrian and bicyclist flows is vital to distributing a limited construction budget to new infrastructure for improved safety on specific roads. Unfortunately, statewide data collection for active transportation flows is challenging.

MnDOT and local agencies historically have lacked estimates of bicycle and pedestrian traffic on Trunk Highways and County State Aid Highways.

Since about 2016, MnDOT has begun monitoring bicycle and pedestrian flow at more than 25 locations across the state, but, given the small number of counters and the variability of flows in response to variations in weather across Minnesota, these monitoring data are insufficient for estimation of Annual Average Daily Bicyclists and Annual Average Daily Pedestrians.

One option for obtaining travel data without expensive infrastructure is relying on mobile data collection.

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New Project: Influence of Autonomous and Partially Autonomous Vehicles on Minnesota Roads

As autonomous vehicles (AVs) become increasingly more numerous on roadways, they have the potential to substantially alter traffic flow. New vehicles today have many driver-assisting (or SAE Level 1) features—such as adaptive cruise control, parking assistance, collision avoidance, emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance—which still require a hands-on driver. However, as technology advances toward eventual SAE Level 4 automation, vehicles will be able to function without drivers, which will likely change the shape of traffic flow.

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