CEE welcomes the new faculty member, Dr. Robert Kluger

Dr. Robert Kluger joined the University of Louisville Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in July of 2018. He is focused on cutting edge research in transportation systems, focusing on safety, operations, and technology. Previous to his faculty appointment at the UofL, Dr. Kluger worked as a post-doc at University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. He received his bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech and both his master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Virginia. He is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Kluger hopes to bring technology to roads in Louisville and the surrounding region. Transportation technologies can be used to improve many aspects of the transportation system and research is ongoing to fully understand range of applications. Transportation technology can broadly be broken into two categories, existing, and emerging, and can refer to in-vehicle technologies or roadside technologies. While many may be familiar with the in-vehicle technology associated with new vehicles due to publicity from auto manufacturers and OEMs, the roadside technology is what provides system-level benefits to regional mobility.

There are a variety of uses for roadside technologies. One of the most visible uses is the detection of traffic at signalized intersections. Traffic signals without the ability to detect traffic operate on a “pretimed” plan, meaning that the traffic signal is unable to adapt to the surrounding traffic conditions. The result is often many vehicles stopped at one approach while the other sees a green without any vehicles, which is what traffic engineers refer to as “lost time.”

However, if a traffic signal is equipped with detection, it can be programmed to realize that no vehicles are using the green and reallocate the time to waiting vehicles. Examples of existing detectors include inductive loop detectors, RADAR, and video image processors. Emerging detection technologies are able to recognize cyclists and pedestrians as well, however this is an area that requires further research to accurately identify the presence of pedestrians and determine when the pedestrian has cleared the intersection.

Kluger intends to test advance technology and develop partnerships with local transportation agencies to deploy detection technology in the surrounding region.

Figure 1. Wavetronix RADAR Sensor

Another key use for roadside technology is performance measurement. Traffic operators need to know what is occurring on the system they operate to identify areas of improvement. One example of a performance measure is the travel time between two points. Travel time is critical for the dissemination of traveler information, evaluation of system congestion (both recurrent and nonrecurrent), and in developing regional transportation improvement plans.

Numerous other performance measures either exist, or can be developed, to evaluate regional mobility, safety, air quality, transit and freight performance, and more. The roadside sensor required depends on the performance needs and some of these measures can even be obtained through in-vehicle technologies as well. The best performance measures require second-by-second data collected by sensor technologies throughout the road network. With the data-infrastructure in place, it is very difficult to quantify the system performance.

Figure 2. Performance Measure Examples in Arizona

Other technology is available today for niche applications. Variable message signs provide travelers with information about the system including travel time and incident locations. Emergency vehicle preemption ensures traffic signals turn green for approaching emergency vehicles to reduce response times. Kluger’s research will identify further niche applications that can improve mobility, safety, and other aspects of how the transportation system in the region operates.
In Arizona, Kluger worked with state and local agencies including the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Pima County Department of Transportation (PCDOT), the Pima Association of Governments (PAG) and more to conduct applied research for the local community. Projects were primarily focused on different applications of roadside technology and how it can be utilized to influence traveler behavior, measure performance, evaluate safety, and evaluate mobility in the State of Arizona. He looks forward to bringing his experience and expertise to the University of Louisville, the local community, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.