Researchers from across the University are leading the way in how we think about the future of transportation in our state and nation. Professors and students in this area want the University to be a catalyst in transforming transportation and infrastructure research into actionable knowledge.
Faculty and students in aerospace engineering and mechanics specialize in computational modeling and simulation as well as materials manufacturing and characterization, which includes mechanical testing and composite materials characterization.
Researchers in the disciplines of civil engineering specializing in transportation and systems engineering study traffic impact analysis, traffic signal systems design, red-light running, roundabout design, crash reductions, adaptive traffic signal controls, public transportation, environmental impacts of transportation, transportation in the developing world, and life cycle design of pavements.
An example of a project with high potential is UTCA’s vehicle-to-infrastructure, V2I, communication research. It will be conducted on a joint University of Alabama and City of Tuscaloosa test bed of 85 radio-instrumented traffic signals. This project will shed light on real time V2I communication that can enable better driver decision-making at intersections, enhance safety and provide more efficient intersection traffic movement. The test bed will be one of the top five facilities in the nation, and it will provide opportunities for many disciplines. Multidisciplinary researchers have already identified 15 important topics the test bed can address.
Computer scientists are on the leading edge of using data analytics, high-performance computing and social intelligence across a wide range of transportation research fields. They interact with CAPS, and the transportation data housed by CAPS provides a fertile research ground.
Faculty and students in electrical and computer engineering are studying electromechanical systems, including a focus on high-power motion control system development and integration topics, along with embedded systems using various computing platforms and reconfigurable hardware to facilitate research. The rapid development of autonomous vehicles is being addressed by their research into criteria, materials and designs for autonomous vehicle antennas to ensure 100 percent success for communication between vehicles and infrastructure in any environment.
Mechanical engineering professors and students focus on energy, combustion and engines; dynamics, electromechanical systems and controls; as well as design, manufacturing and materials. Current research involves enhanced combustion in large engines to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, and using battery power to provide initial vehicle acceleration after a stop since pollutant emissions are at the maximum during this period.
Researchers in metallurgical and materials engineering specialize in materials processing, materials characterization and integrated computational materials engineering.