Use Smartphone App to Help the Visually Impaired Navigate Work Zones Safely
People who are visually impaired often encounter physical barriers that limit their accessibility and mobility. Building upon our previous study on providing geometry and signal timing to the visually impaired at signalized intersections, this project will investigate what types of information are helpful in providing bypass or routing instructions and develop a smartphone-based auditory navigation system to assist the visually impaired pedestrians in navigating work zones safely.
Mobile Accessible Pedestrian Signals for the Visually Impaired
The blind and visually impaired usually walk or use public transit as their primary mode of transportation for pursuing their daily activities. Due to obvious differences in spatial perception as compared to sighted people, they may encounter potential barriers both physically and mentally. This can occur not only for travel in unfamiliar areas but even in familiar areas. Movement barriers may be seem simple and trivial for sighted person to navigate. However, these obstacles create additional challenges for the blind to find their way and thus further limit their transportation accessibility and mobility.
Current Accessible Pedestrian Signal (APS) system required the blind to search for a vibrotactile pushbutton, if one even exists. It often requires the pedestrian to move away from their path of travel, which is often used as an alignment cue for crossing. Due to the high cost of the APS installation, most agencies do not deploy them at all signalized intersections. In addition to the installation and maintenance costs which accrue to the local traffic agency, current APS systems contribute significant "noise" to the local neighborhood. Furthermore, the auditory guiding cues provided by the APS are often inaudible because of the ambient traffic noise associated with rush hour. There is significant room for improvement in terms of the design and accessibility of both APS and non-APS crosswalk signals for pedestrians with vision impairment.
Kare11 News, 2/17/2012
12 News, 4/20/2012
University of Minnesota, ITS Institute, 7/23/2012
University of Minnesota, ITS Institute (with visual descriptions), 9/14/2012
As a component of the Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA), Minnesota
Department of Transportation (MnDOT), Metropolitan Council, and City of Minneapolis have implemented conditional
Transit Signal Priority (TSP) strategy along Central Avenue including 27
signalized intersections in the north of Downtown Minneapolis. Transit
service performance before and after the TSP deployment was studied. As
a result of the TSP deployment, bus schedule was reduced by 2 minutes to
take full advantage of the conditional signal priority strategy. Results indicated that the existing TSP implementation
improves bus travel time (TT) by about 4-6%.
A methodological data-processing framework was developed to process a massive amount of transit data, including vehicle location, passenger count, and electronic fare transactions (Liao & Liu, 2010). A Transit Performance Analyst, resulting from the data-processing methodology, was developed in collaboration with Metro Transit to automate data analysis and visualization. This analyst tool consists of Time Point (TP) level analysis, inter-TP link travel time/speed analysis and route performance analysis.
One of the key measures of freight performance on interstate highways in the United States is travel time reliability. This project utilizes the truck location data obtained from ATRI to study the freight activities along I-94/90. Data analysis methodology and data processing procedures were developed. Travel Time Index (TTI), defined as the peak travel time over the free flow travel time, is proposed to measure the level of congestion. Buffer Time Index (BTI), defined as the difference between the 95th percentile travel time and average travel time divided by the average travel time, is used to measure the travel time reliability along the freight corridor. Truck speed, speed variation, truck volume variation, distribution of destinations, stop location, and rest duration derived from each individual trip were also processed and analyzed.
We have developed and tested in the classroom for the following simulation modules, namely, ROAD: Roadway Online Application for Design,
ADAM: Agent-based Demand and Assignment Model,
SONG: Simulator of Network Growth, and
OASIS: Online Application of Signalized Intersection Simulation. All simulation programs are web-based, which enable easy access and learning outside the classroom. It is noteworthy that commercial transportation simulation packages do exist. The commercial tools designed for professionals, however, are usually complicated and expensive, and thus inappropriate for classroom use, particular in the introductory course which focusing on conceptual understanding. We do not intend to duplicate or even compete with the commercial packages. Our emphasis is to provide a simple web-based simulation tool that allows student to better understand the underlying theory in transportation engineering.
An enhanced version of the traffic control game, called Gridlock Buster, was recently developed by ITS institute through contract with Web Courseworks based on features and ideas from my Traffic Control Game.
The Gridlock Buster game was introduced to help high school students better understand traffic management concepts and raise awareness of challenges in traffic engineering. Students were asked to explore and play the game with a goal to obtain highest score by optimizing network throughput and vehicle delay and queue. After playing the game, students were asked in groups to develop hypothesis and conduct controlled experiments using the simulation module mentioed above.
Route Optimization for Understanding Transportation Engineering (ROUTE)
is developed based on Glen Koorey's
approach (Getting from A to
B: Using an Interactive Display to Demonstrate Transportation Planning and
Design Issues) presented in 2009 TRB
annual meeting. He
developed a transportation board display with a landscape that allows students to
place magnetic road segments for optimal route design. Based on the origin and destination
and initial alignment, students can place linear or curved road segment on the board display to
form a roadway along a desired path with different objective, for example,
to minimize the user cost, construction cost, or both
This online route optimization game is more flexible and includes additional features that will allow users to select different landscape map, origin and destination locations, and initial direction of alignments.
Combining newly available technologies such as onboard Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL)-Global Positioning System (GPS), wireless communications and advanced traffic signal control systems, We have developed a Transit Signal Priority (TSP) prototype system that will subtly adjust the operation of traffic signals along bus routes so that buses carrying passengers receive fewer red signals--with minimal disruption to other traffic. In our previous research project, We evaluated the performance of DSRC versus Wi-Fi network and developed wireless communication prototype using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) embedded systems. The adaptive TSP strategy based on the AVL-GPS and wireless technology was implemented and validated at an intersection in City of Minneapolis. The next phase study is to deploy the developed systems to several intersections along an arterial to evaluate the impact and benefit of the wireless-based signal priority algorithm and validate the capacity of wireless communication network.