, HumanFIRST Lab Director, Mechanical Engineering
The HumanFIRST Laboratory was awarded a grant through the University of Minnesota Office of the Vice President for Research to match funds to completely overhaul the laboratory's driving simulators. This upgrade (which included large touchscreen displays in the immersive simulators' cockpit) will allow the laboratory to conduct innovative research in the fields of connected vehicles, in-vehicle technologies, and automated vehicles. In addition, the visibility of the laboratory's increased capabilities is expected to boost an already-frequent demand for educational and training partnerships (particularly around high-risk behaviors, such as distraction and speeding) from both government and private groups. In addition to the value in education and dissemination of knowledge regarding roadway safety to the greater community through demonstrations using the simulator, these partnerships often foster future opportunities for research partnerships and funding. Legacy driving scenarios will be updated to new simulator specifications. The creation of this new content is expected to allow new funding opportunities and will facilitate the research team sharing its knowledge through educational and training opportunities within the regional community. This research leveraged the investment in the new simulator and propelled the laboratory's capabilities through the creation of three distinct simulated demonstrations focused on controlled handoffs with automated vehicles, distracted driving via non-driving-related in-vehicle technologies, and speeding in pedestrian-populated areas. These topics are key research focus areas for the Roadway Safety Institute and are core focus areas for the HumanFIRST Laboratory and its funding stakeholders.