CTS Research Partnership Award


The benefits of effective research far surpass the corresponding investment and implementation. To develop, conduct, and implement research effectively, advanced skills and in-depth knowledge are required. The necessary knowledge and skills are not found in one individual, in one discipline, or even in one sector of our society. Rather, the most effective research comes about through partnerships and teamwork.

This award recognizes research projects within the CTS program that have resulted in significant impacts on transportation, and rewards teams of individuals who have drawn on the strengths of their diverse partnerships to achieve those results.


To be considered for this award, a group of individuals must have worked together on one or more research projects and implementation efforts that have the following qualities:

  • a research component led by University of Minnesota faculty or research staff
  • involvement of University of Minnesota students
  • significant findings
  • measured benefits as a result of implementing the research findings or adding to the bank of existing knowledge
  • documented costs in research and implementation

In addition, the nominated group of individuals must have:

  • represented multiple sectors (i.e., public, academic, private) of our society
  • acquired diverse skills and knowledge
  • demonstrated the synergistic effect of the partnership


A Comprehensive System for Assessing Truck Parking Availability

This project developed and demonstrated an automated truck stop management system that can determine the number of occupied parking spaces at MnDOT safety rest areas. The system uses a network of cameras to monitor parking availability at truck stops, automatically identifying available spaces in real time.

The system was installed at three MnDOT rest areas on I-94 between 2012 and 2014. The team found that, across extended periods of time and varying weather conditions, individual parking space occupancy detection was correct over 95% of the time, demonstrating the capability of the system to provide persistent, real-time parking space status without any manual recalibrations or corrections. 

This technology has the potential to improve safety, lead to better trip and operations management by drivers and carriers, and help MnDOT and private truck stop owners manage their facilities more effectively. 
Project Partners: 

  • University of Minnesota: Nikos Papanikolopoulos, Vassilios Morellas, Ted Morris, Max Donath, Gina Baas
  • MnDOT: John Tompkins, Thomas Dumont, William Gardner, Bruce Holdhusen, Tim Spencer, Ray Starr, Robert Williams
  • American Transportation Research Institute: Dan Murray
  • Federal Highway Administration: James McCarthy

Past Winners

View a list of research projects that have previously received the Research Partnership Award.