Virginia Smart Travel Laboratory

Smart Travel Lab InteriorInnovation in Transportation

The need for innovative approaches to surface transportation issues—like managing congestion, instead of road building and lane expansion—have prompted a dynamic partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the University of Virginia (UVA) Center for Transportation (CTS) that resulted in the creation of the Smart Travel Lab (STL), a state-of-the-art facility that supports research and education in the area of intelligent transportation systems (ITS). ITS involves applying cutting-edge technologies in such diverse areas as information processing, communications, electronics and computer systems to existing transportation infrastructure and promises cost-effective, ecologically aware, efficient and safe solutions to traffic management and control. Located in the Thornton Hall at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Smart Travel Lab brings together students, faculty, and researchers to perform transportation-related applied research.

STL’s mission is to support the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) with research and development of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technologies and applications, to provide VDOT with in-depth knowledge and expertise on statewide transportation operations and traffic engineering data analysis, modeling, and simulation, and to showcase applications of real-time and archived transportation data.

STL focuses research in two areas: transportation operations research and connected vehicles research. Research in other fields, like planning and integrated corridor management, is also undertaken. Given that the Smart Travel Lab is not directly involved in mission-crititcal system operation, it can allow for experimentation with new approaches. Also recent simulation research in the Lab has demonstrated the usefulness of microscopic traffic simulation for traffic management, not just for the traditional uses of design and planning, which has led to a stronger emphasis on simulation in VDOT’s ITS program.

The objective of the STL operations focus is to produce research that acts as a feedback loop showing the type of service VDOT is providing and areas for improvement. To do this, STL is pursuing research goals that are meaningful and valuable to VDOT transportation professionals and managers and can help them make more informed transportation and fund allocation decisions that are rooted in real-life data. The objective of the connected vehicle research program is to use connected vehicle infrastructure technologies to improve safety, operational efficiency, infrastructure state and its ability to function, and level of service provided to the traveling public.

STL Directors

Brian Smith
Civil Engineering, UVA

Cathy McGhee
Senior Research Scientist
Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research

Further Info

To obtain further information, e-mail the STL manager or call (434) 243-8595.