A cross country road trip through Kansas consists mostly of open prairie, farm land and rolling hills scattered in-between cities located several miles apart. Interstate 70 spans 424 miles and attracts upwards of 66,000 daily users in select areas. Although fairly straight, unpredictable scenarios like automobile malfunctions, active wildlife and unruly weather are bound to happen. These types of accidents can pose serious danger to drivers in rural terrain, and make it difficult for state officials to monitor. As a result, highway congestion and clean-up/clear-out is prolonged until emergency officials arrive.
These are the type of real-world problems Malgorzata Rys aims to resolve. With more than 25 years' experience in human factors/ergonomics engineering, Rys specializes in highway safety. Her desire to extend research outside of academia led to an early partnership with Kansas Department of Transpiration (KDOT). More than 20 years later, she has successfully implemented over 50 projects that vary from work zone safety to highway sign visibility. In collaboration with her graduate student's, Rys helps KDOT identify problems within local transportation infrastructures. Their research uses complex data analysis to design better systems that offer cost-effective, optimized solutions.
UVA'S TO IMPROVE COST, EFFICIENCY & SAFETY
One of Rys's current projects focuses on the implementation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UVA) to improve highway safety. Through a series of field tests, Rys and her students use UVA's to map high risk environments and gather real-time data. This scientific information is used to develop efficient and effective solutions to problems that impair modern day roadways.
RESEARCH OBJECTIVE - How can government officials best utilize UVA's to capture real-time data to reduce costs and enhance performance on large-scale highway safety projects?
1. Develop a best practice, policies and procedures guide for use of UVA's on state roadways
2. Field test the UVA's for optimal usage in efficiency, safety and cost reduction
ADDITIONAL RESEARCH INTERESTS
- Human element in transportation systems
- Visibility and retro-reflectivity
- Rumble strips design and performance
- Roundabouts design and performance
- Modeling and simulation of natural disasters
- Transportation logistics
- Experimental design
- Benefit-cost analysis