BY: Max Donath
Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Director, Roadway Safety Institute, University of Minnesota
Severe winter weather conditions and lengthy winter nights can produce extremely hazardous driving conditions for both the traveling public and maintenance crews. Our objective is to increase the driver’s situational awareness through the use of improved sensing and human-machine interfaces, taking advantage wherever appropriate of the human driver’s intuitive response.
Several driver-assist systems developed at the University of Minnesota based on this philosophy will be described. Conformal augmented reality systems using high accuracy decimeter-level Differential GPS installed on snowplows operating in zero- to low-visibility conditions, were first deployed in Alaska in 2004. This technology installed on buses driving on narrow bus-only-shoulders, was first deployed into passenger service in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area in 2011. These subsequently evolved into a less expensive snowplow driver assist system presently under development in Minnesota with plans for future application in other northern tier states.
Prior to serving as director of the Roadway Safety Institute, Prof. Donath was director of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute from 1997 to 2013. Besides coordinating the research of multiple faculty, researchers and their students, Prof. Donath’s efforts have been focused on keeping the driver in the loop, using sensing technologies, control systems and improved human-machine interfaces to reduce driver error, and thus prevent crashes before they happen. His research can be grouped into three areas: (a) collision avoidance and active safety, (b) novel human-machine interfaces for providing improved situation awareness to the driver and pedestrian, and (c) reducing age-related risky driving behavior. More recently he has started work on sensing and control to facilitate highly automated driving in snow-covered environments. He joined the University of Minnesota in 1978 after receiving his Ph.D. from M.I.T.
For opportunities to meet with the speaker, please contact Prof. Brendan Englot ([email protected]).