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Laboratories & Data Acquisition Systems

VTTI's laboratories are housed in three buildings and include facilities dedicated to driver interface development, eye-glance data reduction, lighting research, accident analysis, accident database analysis, pavement research, and traffic simulation.


The traditional laboratories at VTTI are housed in three buildings totaling more than 52,000 square feet. Building I is 30,000 square feet and houses office, laboratory, and garage facilities. Laboratories include facilities dedicated to driver interface development, eye-glance data reduction, lighting research, accident analysis, accident database analysis, pavement research, and traffic simulation. The National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence building comprises 22,000 square feet of office and laboratory space and was occupied in July 2006. VTTI expanded its on-site capacity by 7,000 square feet of warehouse space and housing for a shock tube lab, a paint booth facility, and a lighting lab. An additional 24,400 square-foot annex was opened in August 2013. Most recently, VTTI constructed its newest building, the Automation Hub, adding nearly 15,000 square feet of office and laboratory space adjacent to the Virginia Smart Roads.

Data Acquisition Systems (DASs)

The VTTI-developed DASs have been designed to collect and store large amounts of continuous naturalistic data from the driving environment, including video, vehicle network information, and additional sensor information that can include radar, GPS, and acceleration.

Data collected from various onboard systems are processed and stored in the DAS, which is similar to a “black box” unit found in commercial airplanes. The DAS features are configurable and typically include:

  • An arm-based core with video processing on a digital signal processor chip
  • Additional sensors, such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers
  • Video with H.264 video/audio compression and multi-channel binary data synchronization
  • GPS
  • Doppler-based front and rear radar
  • Controller area network 2.0B, VPW, PWM, and ISO vehicle network interfaces
  • Removable, high-capacity, shock-resistant hard drives for data retrieval

Via its multi-camera system, the DAS can collect information about a range of variables. These cameras record multiple views that can include forward, rearward, and internal views (such as over-the-shoulder, face, and pedal areas). Across the sensor package, data parameters can be customized to include such variables as:

  • Vehicle network data, such as speed, airbag deployment, brake use, throttle position, turn signaling, and many other elements
  • Environmental factors, such as weather, lighting, glare, and temperature
  • Presence of nearby objects and their relative speed obtained via radar and optical technologies
  • Other data, such as sound, vibration, acceleration, and turning rate

Current iterations of VTTI DASs include the Next Generation (NextGen) DAS, MiniDAS, FlexDAS, and MicroDAS; a specific DAS is typically selected based on the data-collection requirements for a given project.

  • The NextGen DAS is fully customized on two circuit boards, is easily configurable, and features machine-vision head pose and lane-tracking software.
  • The MiniDAS includes a connection to the vehicle network, two video channels, GPS, a nine-axis inertial measurement unit (accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer), is expandable with sensor modules via WiFi or Bluetooth, and is compatible with dedicated short-range communication radios. All of the MiniDAS features fit within a system roughly the size of a sandwich and enable naturalistic studies for all vehicle sizes operating on the roadway, from motorcycles and bicycles to tractor-trailers.
  • The FlexDAS provides high bandwidth (supports up to eight high-resolution cameras) along with powerful processing via multiple external sensors and networks. FlexDAS provides a wide range of I/O options and can operate off of vehicle power with intelligent power management that safely shuts down the device when the vehicle battery level is low.
  • The MicroDAS uses intelligent power management to operate off of a wide range of powers from 9 to 40 V with a low sleep current. The MicroDAS features an onboard, six-axis inertial measurement unit with magnetometers, an onboard global positioning system, digital I/O, audio input, and onboard WiFi and Bluetooth. The MicroDAS can record data from up to four high-definition USB cameras and store data in multiple formats, including microSD, USB, and SATA.