In celebrating its first 30 years from 1987 to 2017, the Center for Transportation Studies is looking back at research, education, and engagement highlights to illustrate the innovation that makes transportation better.
Traffic operations, a key CTS research area, is a great example of how U of M research meets the practical needs of Minnesotans, in the Twin Cities metro and throughout the state. And it shows how knowledge grows over time, even over decades, and builds on the findings of past studies.
University of Minnesota professor emeritus Panos Michalopoulos invented Autoscope® technology to help transportation agencies capture video images of traffic and analyze the information, enabling better traffic management. Autoscope was commercialized in 1991, and the technology has been incorporated into products sold and used worldwide.
Current traffic operations research builds on this strong foundation. For example, the U’s Minnesota Traffic Observatory, directed by John Hourdos, develops data collection tools such as the Beholder camera system. The system is deployed on high-rise rooftops overlooking a stretch of I-94 in Minneapolis—an area with the highest crash frequency in Minnesota—to help the Minnesota Department of Transportation reduce congestion and improve safety.