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UD and DelDOT team up with state-of-the-art transportation planning lab

Shinya Kikuchi

NEWARK, DE.--A new University of Delaware laboratory stands at the center of modern transportation planning, using leading edge communications and information technologies to smooth the flow of traffic throughout the state.

The UD Intelligent Transportation Systems laboratory, which is on the third floor of DuPont Hall on the Newark campus, was dedicated during ceremonies Tuesday, May 29. It is a cooperative venture of UD and the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT).

According to Shinya Kikuchi, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UD, the laboratory, in which three large television screens face a bank of computer work stations, is one of just three university-based transportation control laboratories in the nation.

He said it is part of an international effort "to take advantage of the fusion of information and communications technology in transportation to improve efficiency, safety and the mobility of people and goods."

Fiber optic cable links the laboratory directly to the DelDOT Transportation Management Center in Smyrna, enabling the UD laboratory to receive video images of current traffic conditions and real-time data from traffic detectors and signals, according to Ardeshir Faghri, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at UD.

The laboratory will be used for research, student education and the training of DelDOT personnel.

"We at the University can develop traffic signal control strategies and incident management strategies" based on the information, Kikuchi said. "We can predict delays, queue lengths and when the lines will disappear."

There also will be applications to improve the efficiency of public transportation. DART buses are equipped with Global Positioning System equipment and, using ITS technologies, staff at the laboratory will be able to track delays and use a special device to let passengers waiting at the various stops know when the next bus will arrive.

UD engineers plan to develop software and hardware that predict traffic conditions, control traffic flow, detect incidents and inform travelers about travel options.

Within the University, the laboratory will involve several disciplines and departments, Kikuchi said. These include civil and environmental engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, urban affairs, economics, communication, computer science and mathematics.

The laboratory will be used to educate students on the phenomena of traffic that are related to physics and mathematics, as well as engineering and human behavior. “Transportation is a good platform to study basic and applied sciences, including issues of causality, stimulus response, measurement, human factor, control, large scale systems, planning and policy,” Kikuchi said.

Faghri said the ITS is part of a "worldwide phenomenon" through which governments are working in concert with corporations and institutions of highereducation to better use advanced technologies in communication, information and computer science to improve the mobility of people and goods

Contact: Neil Thomas, (302) 831-6408, nfttwo@udel.edu
May 30, 2001