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Oct. 31, 2018

Life on the road

Oct. 31, 2018

I got into my car and my watch buzzed. I looked at my wrist and it was telling me that Beaumont Hospital was 1 hour and 26 minutes away and traffic was light. I was actually headed to work (a much shorter 12-minute commute) but my watch had learned from my frequent trips and guessed that’s where I was headed. It’s pretty wild that my watch even does that, but since it takes a lot of repeated trips to predict destinations, I realized I had been living a lot of my life on the road lately.

My little car gets great gas mileage, yet the attendant at Costco and I have become great friends lately. I try to mix up my drive just for variety. Sometimes I go through Okemos, other times through Williamston. Thanks to a multitude of freeway options in metro Detroit, I can avoid traffic and take in a change of scenery too. But often, it’s felt like I’m driving on autopilot. Which, of course, I’m not. My car only goes when and where I drive it, which I really love to do. I’m an old-school driver who loves driving a stick shift. It keeps me engaged and it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

That said, there are times when I wish the driving wasn’t all on me. When I drove my husband’s car I became a fan of the backup camera, not to mention the remote start and heated steering wheel. My dad’s car has parking assistance and all of them let me know when it’s cold enough for snow. Technology is making driving easier and safer every day.

Here at MSU, making the roads safer is the driving force behind the College of Engineering-based research center, Connected and Autonomous Networked Vehicles for Active Safety. Researchers there are doing incredible work with sensors that can detect specific weather conditions, pedestrians, other vehicles and more. Check out the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Safer autonomous vehicles, to learn more about how CANVAS is moving research forward.

Peter Savolainen, a new MSU Foundation Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, came to MSU “because the university is uniquely positioned to serve as a living laboratory that can play a transformative role in transportation research.” Check out his FACULTY VOICE: Are you an excellent driver? to learn more about his work and what’s just around the corner for transportation research here on campus.

Sean Griffin knows a bit about “bumps in the road” but says he learns from the obstacles he finds along his way. A graduate student in the Department of Integrative Biology at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, he researches wild bee conservation, habitat restoration, animal dispersal and movement. Read his STUDENT VIEW: Sweet success, to learn more about his work and why he thinks “science is often a series of failures that teaches us how to succeed.”

Failures are an inevitable part of life, but it’s what we learn from them that matters. Rather than letting a bump in the road overwhelm us, Spartans shift gears and drive harder than ever. Twists and turns and unexpected barriers might slow us down momentarily, but will never stop us from our ultimate destination of a better world for all. No matter where the roads lead us, Spartans will be a driving force toward success. #SpartansWill.

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone

Photo by Jordan Noble


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