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Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, has an entry that briefly outlines the US program to develop intelligent transportation systems (1). A fairly comprehensive list of ITS technologies and applications are also included. An analysis of specific ITS implementations, published in May 2003, gives a much more thorough explanation of how ITS impacts surface transportation (2). The benefits of such systems are compared to their costs, and many of the results come from studies conducted by various research institutions. Some examples of the technologies evaluated in the analysis are driver assistance services and collision notification systems. An alternative to conventional traffic management systems is proposed in a research paper from the University of Minnesota (3). Rather than using hard-to-install magnetic loop devices to count vehicles, the authors propose a system of cameras that can keep track of not only the number of vehicles, but also lane changes and vehicle classifications. ITS also has applications for homeland security, as is described in a report from the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (4). The 36-page document outlines ways to use ITS for identifying potentially vulnerable areas within the transportation system and maintaining efficient surface transportation during emergencies. The University of Washington has an active ITS research program (5), and its homepage has many news articles and formal papers that are mainly centered on decision support tools for travelers. The research done by faculty and students has resulted in the development of software and tools that let commuters know the status of traffic and public transportation systems. The Intelligent Vehicle Initiative (IVI) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (6) focuses on minimizing the distraction of in-vehicle technologies and creating advanced crash avoidance systems. Many resources are available on the IVI Web site, but one of the most recent features is a section containing presentation from the 2003 National IVI Meeting. Information about the new Intelligent Intersection test facility at the Federal Highway Administration's Highway Research Center can be found in this news article (7). The facility, which opened in June 2003, is intended to test new technologies for preventing crashes at intersections. Lastly, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hopes to develop a system that will prevent pileups and accidents caused by sudden changes in traffic speed. His conceptual description of such a system, which may incorporate global positioning system and wireless communication technologies, is described in this article (8).
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