Year-one reflections on a road traveled and the journey ahead


Phil Magney and Kyle Shelton talking in front of the MnCAV Ecosystem vehicle
Phil Magney (VSI Labs) and Kyle Shelton with the MnCAV Ecosystem vehicle at the closing Drive MN event.

In mid-August, just after my one-year anniversary as CTS’s director, I stood at a gathering of about 50 folks to celebrate the successful completion of Drive MN—a statewide connected and automated vehicle (CAV) data collection effort. Alongside partners from MnDOT, VSI Labs, and Bolton & Menk, the CTS MnCAV Ecosystem team discussed the effort and its aims.

The 1,000+ mile drive in two CAV-ready vehicles allowed the team to collect troves of sensor and camera data from all corners of the state. The data collected will provide critical information about how these vehicles interpret and operate in our current roadway system. The importance of such data collection for the future smooth operation of CAV technologies cannot be understated.

As I listened to the presentation, I was struck by how this work was a great reflection of all CTS has achieved throughout the past year. Our contributions to the Drive MN tour serve as an apt example of where we are going in the years ahead.

Within the University, our MnCAV Ecosystem team and strong cohort of CAV researchers have been putting our own vehicle to great use investigating a range of challenges about this cutting-edge mobility technology. Researchers have also played a critical role in documenting the rollout, public perception, and performance of CAV shuttles in multiple Minnesota cities through work alongside MnDOT’s CAV office. We’ve built upon our strong relationships with CAV partners through the Drive MN effort, my appointment to the Governor’s CAV Advisory Council, and participation with the Innovation Alliance. Our CAV vehicle was also a centerpiece of our second annual CAV Career Pathways Camp held for high school students in the summer of 2022.

Research. Engagement. Education. The three pillars of CTS’s work, all captured in just our CAV efforts.

Our daily work on other key topics and programs—from safety, to equity, to workforce development—reinforces these pillars. And each of these areas comes with a consistent through line embodied by each member of our staff—delivering impactful results.

Last year, the CTS Executive Committee and our team undertook a planning process to create a new five-year strategic plan and to lay out our path toward continued impact. Much of our discussion focused on how to best deliver the results of our work, how to deepen our connections with stakeholders, and how to build a central role for the University and CTS in addressing the transportation challenges of today and the future.

Key to this effort was refining our core vision and mission: Collaborating with partners to shape transportation systems that are sustainable, serve the needs of all users, support a strong economy, and improve our collective quality of life.

As we always have, we will strive to achieve that vision through our research, engagement, and education efforts.

Look for CTS to continue to become more proactive in 2023 and the years to come. We will connect with more partners and work with them to identify projects that can help address burning questions or critical needs. We will collaborate ever more closely with our faculty and researchers to pull together innovative, interdisciplinary teams that can tackle complicated, interconnected challenges in topics from sustainable transportation to equitable mobility. We will prepare both the existing and future transportation workforce for the shifts to come. And CTS will host and facilitate critical conversations about transportation in Minnesota and beyond. 

I’m looking forward to celebrating many more completed research projects, successful partnerships, and impactful outputs from CTS and the University. We hope you’ll come along with us on this journey throughout the years ahead.


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Media Contact

Michael McCarthy