BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 19, 2012 – The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and its research partners are transitioning lessons learned about conducting naturalistic driving research to China.
Tongji University of Shanghai, General Motors, and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute will join to study driving in Shanghai, one of the largest cities in China, populated by 20 million people and two million cars. The project is the first study outside of the U.S. to use the NextGen data acquisition system developed by the transportation institute to collect vehicle, traffic, and driver behavior data.
In the past few decades, China has grown to the world’s largest automobile market in production and sales. At the same time, the traffic accident and fatality rate in China is substantially higher than the U.S. and other industrial counties.
Results from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute's previous naturalistic driving studies have had significant impacts on public policy and vehicle design.
"Naturalistic driving is the best method to truly understand the interaction between the driver and the driving environment in the 'real world' ultimately leading to countermeasures that will improve safety," said Jon Hankey, director of the Center for Automotive Safety Research at the transportation institute and co-principal investigator of the project in Shanghai.
NextGen is being used to collect data from 2,000 vehicles across the U.S. in the Strategic Highway Research Program 2. The project will recruit 90 participants to drive five General Motors vehicles instrumented with the NextGen system over a three-year study period.
"This project provides a unique opportunity to provide crucial information on the traffic flow characteristics and driver behaviors in one of China's major cities, and an opportunity to compare driving behavior and traffic conditions internationally," said the project's principal investigator Feng Guo, an assistant professor of statistics in the College of Science at Virginia Tech and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducts research to save lives, time, money, and protect the environment. One of the seven university-level research institutes created by Virginia Tech to answer national challenges, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute continually advances transportation through innovation and has impacted public policy on the national and international level.
Naturalistic driving studies, which use sophisticated cameras and instrumentation in participants' personal vehicles, provide researchers with thousands to millions of hours of data on actual driver behavior and performance. These studies could be described as a reality TV show filmed inside a vehicle with the intention of saving lives. Learn more in the Virginia Tech Research magazine.