Over the next year, the University of Florida campus will be transformed into one of the world’s leading testing sites for pedestrian safety.
A team of researchers from University of Florida Transportation Institute (UFTI), in collaboration with the Florida Department of Transportation, campus and city partners, will study a range of emerging technologies that could save lives by providing timely warnings to drivers and pedestrians around each other — before a confrontation becomes fatal.
Led search Lily Evtriado, Director of UFTI. The project will install sensors along Gale Lemerand and Stadium Road in the heart of the campus that can detect pedestrians and vehicles. Notification systems, including alerts in vehicles and a smartphone app for pedestrians and cyclists, will share information about upcoming hazards. This group of technology is known as Connected Vehicle Infrastructure.
Elvitriado’s team will study the effectiveness of these systems both at regular intersections and, crucially, at so-called intermediate intersections – those points between intersections where pedestrians often cross but lack traffic lights and other ways to control vehicles. The majority of pedestrian deaths occur outside intersections, including at intermediate crossings.
“This is a unique collaboration between our university, city, and Florida Department of Transportation that is creating a live lab, which means testing happens on real roads,” Eleftriado said. “In real-world environments we will study more natural behavior. There is no alternative to that.”
In addition to UFTI’s expertise in transportation research, UF provides the ideal location to study connected vehicle infrastructure due to the diversity and complexity of transportation on the college campus.
“We have a great deal of pedestrian and bicycle traffic. We have scooters, cars and a bus system. You can have all this in one place and you don’t have to go study different things in different places” Pruthvi Manjunathaa project leader and manager I-STREET Living Labwhich is the advanced traffic technology research center within the UFTI that is running the study.
While autonomous vehicle technologies – think Tesla’s autopilot or lane-assist technology on a large scale in new cars – have received a lot of attention for their ability to reduce conflict between cars, connected vehicle infrastructure promises to reduce accidents among everyone who uses the street, Pedestrians included. This is because rather than focusing on drivers only, this connected infrastructure aims to recognize the behavior of all road users, and prioritize the safety of all road users.
But infrastructure is not the complete answer. Even in a fully connected world, drivers, pedestrians and cyclists will need to receive alerts in a way that they can respond to them quickly and intuitively without being distracted from the road.
“Even if we have the technology, it is the way we deliver the message that makes the difference. If we can find the optimal mode of message delivery, it will change the rules of the game,” Manjunatha said. “No matter who the road users are, you better help them.” These alerts help make better decisions.”
In focus groups and at real street crossings, the Eletriado team will assess how pedestrians and cyclists use the smartphone app to receive warnings. The researchers will also study how drivers respond to dashboard alerts sent from road sensors. This information will help scientists modify alerts to encourage consistent use.
After the nearly year-long study, the researchers will prepare a final report that will help universities like UF and communities across the country implement connected vehicle infrastructure technology more effectively.
“It is only a matter of time before more and more cities have this connectivity between infrastructure and drivers. The quality of data obtained from this project will definitely help us design better solutions.
If you are a student or UF employee interested in participating in the study, contact Pruthvi Manjunatha at email@example.com.
August 29 2022
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