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Research News

The Future is Now: MnDOT Goes High-Tech

When it comes to creating the transportation system of the future, MnDOT is already doing its research and laying the groundwork for great things to come. Last month at Minnesota’s Transportation Conference, a keynote session titled “Future Forecast: How Drones, Sensors, and Integrated Apps are Rewriting the Rules” inspired many people in the room. Among the topics cited in the talk were the Internet of Transportation, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and 3-D printing, which MnDOT is already studying or even using. (read more) (Posted 4/26/2016)

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Five great environmental research projects

To mark Earth Day 2016, MnDOT Research Services is taking a glance at five stellar examples of current research projects at MnDOT that involve pollution control, wetland mitigation, road salt reduction and new ways of recycling pavement. (read more) (Posted 4/22/2016)

Driver-assist system helps keep plows on the road

A driver-assist system (DAS) system uses GPS technology and a front-mounted radar to provide an image of the road and any obstacles in front of the operator. The image is displayed on a monitor inside the cab of the plow. The system also vibrates the operator’s seat as a warning if the plow veers too close to the roadway’s centerline or fog line. The DAS was developed and refined over the past 20 years under multiple research projects funded by MnDOT and the USDOT’s University Transportation Center program. In addition to plows, the DAS technology has also been applied in other specialty vehicles such as patrol cars and ambulances. Numerous vehicles using the system have been deployed in both Minnesota and Alaska. (read more) (Posted 3/11/2016)

Willow shrubs could be Minnesota's next great snow fence

Researchers recently completed a study that investigated whether willow shrubs could make good living snow fences. While typical snow-fence plants, such as dogwood or cranberry shrubs, can take five to 20 years to establish themselves, shrub willows were effective at trapping snow after just two growing seasons, according to the study. In the four-row configuration recommended by researchers, costs of raising, furnishing, planting and mulching came to about $3.60 per plant, which is dramatically less than the contract bid cost for traditional living snow fence species that cost more than $50 per plant. In addition, the willow shrubs could be harvested and sold as biomass every few years to provide an income source. (read more) (Posted 2/24/2016)

MnDOT accepting research implementation proposals

Is there an advancement intransportation research that you would like to try in Minnesota? MnDOT is soliciting research implementation ideas for FY 2017 funding. Proposals must be submitted by MnDOT staff on the Ideascale website by Feb. 10. Last year’s implementation cycle included projects to provide live-stream images of traffic conditions from snowplows, a tool to determine optimal spacing for MnPASS high-occupancy lanes and a system for evaluating potential sites for railroad crossings to improve safety. (read more) (Posted 1/25/2016)

20 new projects selected

MnDOT’s Transportation Research Innovation Group (TRIG) and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board recently announced their Fiscal Year 2017 funding awards after hearing proposals from researchers at multiple universities. The two bodies chose 20 research proposals totaling about $2.9 million that will study new and innovative approaches to improving the environment, making transportation systems safer, improving construction methods and operating in more cost-effective ways. (read more) (Posted 1/6/2016)