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UW Driving Simulator Utilized for Travel Safety Research

August 28, 2017
Mohamed Ahmed discusses his research in the UW Driving Simulator Laboratory.
Assistant Professor Mohamed Ahmed discusses his research in the UW Driving Simulator Laboratory. (Photo courtesy WYDOT)

Driving on Wyoming’s Interstate 80 can often be precarious, but thanks to a pilot study conducted at the University of Wyoming, that journey could be safer in the near future.

The UW Driving Simulator Laboratory, housed in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, will be the proving ground for a study conducted by both the Wyoming (WYDOT) and United States Departments of Transportation. The research involves connected vehicle pilot testing for WYDOT snowplows and Wyoming Highway Patrol vehicles in an effort to make all vehicles safer.

I-80 is an essential east-west connector for commercial vehicles, carrying more than 32 million tons of freight each year. The technology installed in the vehicles will enable vehicles to communicate with each other and WYDOT, providing real-time information regarding weather, road conditions and hazards.

“The connected vehicle will just provide warnings to drivers. (Drivers) are still in full control,” says Assistant Professor Mohamed Ahmed, who also serves as the director of the UW Driving Simulator Laboratory for the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering. “There is no automation in it, but it will provide a 360-degree situational awareness.”

Before the technology can be deployed, it’s undergoing testing at UW. In the lab setting, test subjects will be put in real-life situations to test their responses and reactions and gauge effectiveness of the connected vehicle technology.

“(This technology will) help WYDOT make sure that drivers aren’t just getting another distraction with the system in their cabs, but that they’re getting real, useful and actionable information that’s going to help them be safer drivers,” says Ali Ragan, WYDOT GIS/ITS Project Manager.

Study personnel say that while the technology isn’t yet widespread, drivers will benefit from the pilot study due to improved information for all vehicles on the roadway.

The WYDOT video about the pilot program can be found here.


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