New University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel got an up-close look at the latest advances in transportation during her inauguration week in September.
On a day focused on creativity and innovation, President Gabel and CTS director Laurie McGinnis took a ride in a semi-autonomous vehicle provided by VSI Labs. The Minnesota-based company is one of many partners working with the U of M on transportation research, including technical and policy issues related to automated vehicles (AVs).
The 2018 Ford Fusion, driven by U of M student Jacob Miller, was equipped with LiDAR, radar, thermal cameras, GPS, and other technology. The group was also joined by VSI AV solutions engineer and U of M grad Mohamed Isse, who gave a demo of the vehicle’s LiDAR technology.
“LiDAR is a sensor that uses spinning lasers to natively see the world around it in three dimensions,” Isse explained. This gives the vehicle a highly detailed and precise view of the objects around it, including other vehicles and pedestrians.
During the ride, President Gabel also learned how CTS works with researchers across the University, as well as with partners like VSI, to foster transdisciplinary innovation and collaboration.
“CTS has a longstanding history of convening researchers and stakeholders on critical transportation issues such as AVs,” McGinnis said. “This was a wonderful opportunity to introduce President Gabel to the innovative work the University is doing to support research partnerships and workforce development for the future of transportation in Minnesota and beyond.”