RSI researchers receive NSF grant
Mechanical engineering professor Rajesh Rajamani and RSI director Max Donath, both with the University of Minnesota (U of MN), have been awarded a nearly $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation. This “Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity” grant awards funding to academe-industry partnerships whose proposals move research toward implementation of a human-centered smart service system. In this new project, Rajamani and Donath will partner with Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) to explore implementation and possible commercialization of the bicycle collision-warning system developed by Rajamani in his Institute-funded research.
The project, titled Smart Human-Centered Collision Warning System: Sensors, Intelligent Algorithms and Human-Computer Interfaces for Safe and Minimally Intrusive Car-Bicycle Interactions, aims to reduce the estimated 48,000 injuries and 700 fatalities that occurred last year in the U.S. as a result of bicycle-vehicle collisions. The system will help motorists keep a safe distance when passing bicyclists and alert only those drivers who are most likely to collide with a bicycle—while minimizing false alarms and unnecessary distractions to motorists. Bicyclists will get guidance cues from the system to ensure a safe and respectful response to vehicles. Human factors concepts will be used to design an alert system that gives motorists specific and effective audio-visual cues—and to help ensure cyclists don’t respond to the improved security by riding more recklessly.
“Bicyclists face far greater consequences in a crash than a motorist,” Rajamani says. “So it’s in the best interest of the bicyclist to be proactive in preventing a collision."
Nichole Morris, principal researcher with the HumanFIRST Lab at the U of MN, will lead work on the human factors components of the research, which includes improving the warning system. Additionally, Loren Terveen, professor in the U of MN’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, will serve as a co-investigator.