F E AT U R E: T R A N S P O R TAT I O N
UA Drives National Research on Connected-Vehicle Systems For all their antitheft, fuel efficiency and satellite radio features, even the priciest new cars still travel on roads using decades-old traffic management technology.
Well-Connected—Professor of systems and industrial engineering Larry Head, right, and PhD student Sara Khosravi demonstrate their connected infrastructure and vehicle technology at the Arizona Connected Vehicle Test Bed in Anthem, Arizona.
Connected Vehicles PhD Student Wins Grad Slam For the second year, Shayan Khoshmagham presented his work during the UA’s Grad Slam, a tournament-style competition, and this year took the grand prize. Khoshmagham envisions a future in which all vehicles on the road – emergency, commercial and passenger – no longer collide, thanks to the implementation of smart technology. He works under the direction of Larry Head of the department of systems and industrial engineering to further the development of multimodal intelligent traffic signals.
Larry Head received the 2016 D. Grant Mickle Award for outstanding paper in operations and maintenance from the Transportation Research Board in January at its 95th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Published in 2015 in the 6 ARIZONAENGINEER 39:1 spring 2016
Head and his graduate students recently took the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, first responders and transportation officials on a tour of the Arizona Connected Vehicle Test Bed, developed and supported by the Maricopa County Department of Transportation SMARTDrive Program, to demo his research. The 2.3-mile live stretch of road in the Phoenix suburb of Anthem features dedicated short-range communications radios mounted in buses and emergency vehicles, atop light poles, and in roadside equipment boxes at intersections. The wireless devices work with traffic signal controllers developed by Head and his team to prioritize approaching vehicles, especially first-responders. There are approximately 30,000 crashes involving fire trucks in the U.S. each year, and fire truck crashes are the second leading cause of death among firefighters. “Those numbers seem way too high for people trying to save other people’s lives,” Head said.
“The whole story starts from the point where vehicles begin talking to one another and to the infrastructure, saying exactly where they are and what priority they are requesting,” said Khoshmagham. “But imagine a smart city, 10 years from now, where cars don’t run into one another anymore.”
Best Paper Award
“Drivers communicate wirelessly on smartphones with people around the globe, but their cars can’t communicate with cars around the corner,” said UA professor of systems engineering Larry Head. “That’s about to change. Vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communications, or connected cars, are on the horizon, and their capabilities will significantly change how traffic is managed and how drivers experience the road.”
Transportation Research Record, “Resonant Cycles Under Various Intersection Spacing, Speeds and Traffic Signal Operational Treatments,” explores the implications of a UA-developed traffic-signaling concept called resonant cycling, which features longer red, yellow and green lights.
First-responder safety was an initial motivation, but Head and his team quickly realized their technology could benefit even more people, and expanded their scope to protecting everyday drivers and passengers. “In 2014, more than 33,000 people were killed in traffic crashes,” Head said. “Technology can help make travel safer. We expect dedicated short-range communications technology will be mandatory in all new vehicles, just like seatbelts.”
UA Launches Transportation Institute
Da Vinci Fellow
The UA has founded the multidisciplinary Arizona Transportation Research Institute to tackle transportation network problems. College researcher Ann Wilkey is the associate director of the institute, whose resident experts include Larry Head; Sally Stevens, professor of gender and women’s studies; and Jeff Burgess, associate dean for research in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
Larry Head was named the College’s 2016 da Vinci Fellow. He plans to use the award to expand student research opportunities and the UA’s reputation as a major center for transportation research.