The world of transportation is undergoing rapid, dramatic change. New technologies have the potential to make travel safer, more efficient, and friendlier to the environment. At the same time, major challenges remain—including congestion, traffic fatalities, sprawl, and the need for upgraded infrastructure.
Recognition of this crucial link helped drive the establishment of the Maryland Transportation Institute (MTI) in April 2018. MTI brings together researchers from across many different disciplines as they develop innovative solutions to address pressing transportation needs. In this annual report, the first since MTI was launched, you’ll read about some of these endeavors. They include:
- Cutting-edge research on transportation big data for multimodal transportation system management and decision support
- An app that nudges travel behavior changes for congestion reduction, enabled by real-time transportation systems modeling and simulation
- Novel traffic signal designs that reduce accident risks and fatalities at intersections in urban and rural areas
- Research into the interaction of automated and human-driven vehicles
- New MTI initiatives such as Transportation and Health, New Mobility Driving Economic
- Development, Big Data for Safety, and Equity and Access to Opportunities
MTI experts, drawn from fields that include engineering, planning, computer science, economics and policy, business management, and public health, each bring their specialized knowledge and perspective to the shared enterprise of improving transportation—not only in Maryland, but nationally and even worldwide. They are supported in their work by some of the most advanced tools and resources available. MTI is home to the largest transportation data center in the United States, operates a National University Transportation Center designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and serves as the interdisciplinary hub that connects more than 20 affiliated research centers and 104 affiliated faculty across ten different colleges at the University of Maryland.
During our inaugural year, MTI has achieved important milestones. Of particular note is the selection of our first group of MTI Seed Grant recipients—six multi-college research teams engaged in projects that advance the transportation field with new data and new methods. In total, MTI is currently coordinating more than 50 active research projects and has won more than $23 million in external research funding during our first year. In addition to facilitating research, we also are helping to advance workforce development and technology transfer with respect to transportation issues. MTI sponsors a broad spectrum of certificate and degree programs, many tailored to working professionals or to students seeking graduate-level credentials.
Our initial success would not have been possible without support from university leaders who believe in the value of strategic investments in MTI; state leaders who advocate for innovative, cost-effective transportation solutions; all our research sponsors who have not only taught us real-world needs but also financially supported our faculty and student research; and the dedication of all MTI affiliates, staff, and friends. To you all, I would like to express my appreciation for helping us create and operate a dynamic organization that helps drive innovation, economic development, and improved quality of life.
Lei Zhang, PhD
Director, Maryland Transportation Institute
Herbert Rabin Distinguished Professor
A. James Clark School of Engineering
University of Maryland