Dr. Amit Bhasin

Asphalt Genome: this is not a single, traditional project but a theme across multiple projects

In the context of a full asphalt mixture, asphalt binder can be treated as a homogenous material. At smaller and sub micron length scales the asphalt binder is a complex ensemble of several distinctly different types of constituent molecules that co-exist in a stable configuration. Groups of similar molecules can be treated as different phases within the asphalt binder. Investigating the chemical makeup of asphalt binder or the asphalt genome can help answer several questions. How do different chemical fractions contribute to the microstructure, stiffness, strength and healing characteristics of asphalt binders? How does fatigue damage (plastic or cracking) accumulate? Some of the tools useful in this research are the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), micro beam fatigue apparatus (indigenously developed), and computational tools such as molecular dynamics simulation. For more information please visit: http://www.caee.utexas.edu/prof/bhasin/Home/research.html

Dr. Chandra Bhat

Texas Transportation Planning for Future Renewable Energy Projects

There will be a significant increase in the number of renewable energy production facilities in Texas. The construction of wind farms requires the transport of wind turbine components that create increased loads on rural roads and bridges. These rural roads and bridges are typically not designed for such loads. This will result in a greater burden on the transportation infrastructure in Texas. Given the upward trend in particular to wind energy production, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is looking to plan for the impacts of future renewable energy projects on roads while facilitating the development of new renewable projects in and around Texas. The focus of this project is to create an operational planning tool that can be used to propose route plans for wind turbine components passing along Texas routes and develop recommendations for planning construction of new wind farms as well as maintenance strategies for the roads.

Dr. Steve Boyles

Integrated Multiresolution Transportation Network Modeling (National Science Foundation)

The central theme of this project is understanding how different infrastructure networks interface with each other, and on developing more efficient modeling algorithms which can exploit these interdependencies. These networks can either be of different infrastructure types (e.g., power grid and road network) or of the same type (transportation networks at the regional and local scale). The research approach is motivated by the idea that “soft boundaries” are preferable to “hard boundaries.” In a hard boundary, each network is treated in isolation, and solution methods are generally iterative, updating the boundary conditions for each model using the output of the other. In the “soft boundary” technique, each network is augmented with a simplified version of the networks it interfaces with, greatly speeding convergence and accuracy. The main challenge is determining how to simplify networks in a way which preserves accuracy. This project considers three specific contexts: multiscale traffic assignment, hierarchical network design, and dynamic network contraction.

Dr. Christian Claudel

Short range network of wearables for safer mobility in Smart Cities

Ensuring safe and efficient mobility is a critical issue for smart city operators. Increasing safety not only reduces the likelihood of road injuries and fatalities, but also reduces traffic congestion and disruptions caused by accidents, increasing efficiency. While new vehicles are increasingly equipped with semi-automation, the added costs will initially limit the penetration rate of these systems. An inexpensive way to replace or augment these systems is to create networks of wearables (smart glasses, watches) that exchange positional and path data at a very fast rate between all users, identify collision risks and feedback collision resolution information to all users in an intuitive way through their smart glasses.

Dr. Kara Kockelman

Bringing Smart Transport to Texas: Ensuring the Benefits of a Connected and Autonomous Transport System in Texas

This project will develop and demonstrate a variety of smart-transport technologies and practices for Texas highways and freeways using AV, CV, smartphone, and related technologies, as well as TxDOT’s Lonestar statewide software. The work’s products will enable more efficient intersection, ramp, and weaving section operations for CAV operations, alongside a suite of behavioral and traffic-flow forecasts for Texas regions and networks under a variety of vehicle mixes (smart plus conventional, semi-autonomous vs. fully autonomous, connected but not automated). The work will develop and facilitate rigorous benefit-cost assessments of multiple strategies that TxDOT may pursue to bring smarter, safer, more connected, and more sustainable ground transportation systems to Texas, in concert with auto manufacturers, technologists, and the traveling public. The effort will also support proactive policymaking on vehicle (and occupant) licensing, liability (in event of crash), and privacy standards for the changing transportation landscape, as more technologies become available and travel behaviors change.

Dr. Randy Machemehl

Development of an Interactive GIS Based Work Zone Traffic Control Design Tool 

This study develops a methodology for enabling sub-network analyses in the context of a large network Dynamic Traffic Assignment (DTA) model. DTA tools are currently being applied to large urban networks and are the best available methodology for identifying network implications of temporary capacity changes, such as work zones, to selected links. A sub-network analysis tool enables DTA application by performing the traffic assignment only for the partial network with much less computational burden. Ultimately, it is intended that linking the GIS tool and the DTA model will establish a seamless process of importing/exporting information between the two programs. It is intended that the user will input roadway capacity changes into the GIS tool and the information will export to the DTA model. The sub-network will feed the DTA model and will convert outputs into travel times, delay, and level of service information within the GIS tool to provide user-friendly feedback.

Dr. Jorge Prozzi

Designing Quieter Pavement Surfaces

The primary objective of this project is to develop specifications for the design and construction of roadway surfaces to meet specific noise requirements. Technical objectives include: developing a fundamental understanding of what is required to design and construct a long lasting, low-noise surface; identifying the mix design options available to ensure low noise generation, specifically for materials, pavements, and conditions in Texas; developing laboratory procedures to measure noise generated by surfacing materials; conducting validation studies to demonstrate that laboratory noise readings match values measured in the field. Monitor noise performance with both on-board sound intensity (OBSI), as well as wayside measurements; developing guidelines for District use on selecting candidate projects and for designing the appropriate surface to provide long-term noise reductions; and documenting the roles and relative importance of roadway surface characteristics.

Dr. C. Michael Walton

Texas Technology Task Force (TTTF)

The Texas Technology Task Force (TTTF) is a strategic initiative committed to advancing the development of a high-performance transportation system to position Texas as the leading nexus of economic activity and technology innovation. The TTTF is designed to guide TxDOT in developing a common vision for the future of the Texas transportation system, and by outlining clear, actionable strategies and enhancing the delivery of quality transportation services. Composed of ten members from public agencies, industry, and research, the Task Force is charged with developing an emerging technology portfolio and recommending strategies to advance and integrate critical technologies into the Texas transportation system.

Dr. Zhanmin Zhang

Putting a Price Tag on International Trade Use of State Infrastructure

For this project, the researchers will develop a utility-based methodological framework for assigning price tags (an indication of infrastructure construction and maintenance costs) to heavily used international freight corridors in Texas.Texas is a major gateway to the entire U.S. for international trade both through seaports and land ports of entry. With the expansion of the Panama Canal and the land bridge from Mexican port of Lazaro Cardenas to Texas, it is likely that international trade through Texas ports of entry will continue to grow, and continue to impact transportation infrastructure in the state. The framework developed by this project will allow the Department of Transportation to maintain these freight corridors with high condition standards and to prepare for potential trade growth due to the increasing international trade use of the state infrastructure.