NUtech Ventures 2021 Breakthrough Innovation of the Year: UNL Midwest Roadside Safety Facility and TrafFix Devices, Inc.
The Breakthrough Innovation of the Year award went to Nebraska’s Midwest Roadside Safety Facility and TrafFix Devices, Inc. The award recognizes a technology developed in the past year that will likely have a profound impact on industry, business or a field of study. The Delta crash cushion, a new roadside safety device, is the result of a six-year partnership between Nebraska researchers and engineers at TrafFix Devices, Inc. Now commercially available, the final product represents top-notch Nebraska research paired with a global business strategy.
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[00:00:05.760]- The Delta Crash Cushion, the
system that we designed is,
[00:00:08.730]again, it's a Crash Cushion System,
[00:00:10.110]it's meant to protect errant
vehicles from rigid hazards.
[00:00:13.370]And that structure basically
has a couple of functions: one,
[00:00:16.750]it has to be strong enough so
that if you've impacted on the
[00:00:18.710]side, that it redirects vehicles,
[00:00:20.990]and if you impact on the
end, it has to collapse.
[00:00:23.260]- [Scott] So the idea is
you hit the crash cushion,
[00:00:25.120]it brings you slowly down to a stop,
[00:00:26.870]as opposed to hitting something hard,
[00:00:28.800]then you have hard decelerations,
[00:00:29.960]which are much more impactful.
[00:00:31.460]- So when we, when we
embarked on this project,
[00:00:34.165]our objective was to
have a mash compliant,
re-directive crash cushion
[00:00:40.900]that was simple, cosmetically
appealing to the eye,
[00:00:47.910]- The breakthrough of
new technology that's
[00:00:49.530]with the Delta Crash Cushion the fact
[00:00:51.110]the energy absorbing mechanisms
in the side panels that were
[00:00:53.670]already part of the
structure to begin with.
[00:00:55.660]And so that gives us an advantage
that we don't have extra
[00:00:58.240]components and we keep things
simple and more efficient.
[00:01:00.798]- One of the challenges that
we had to overcome on that
[00:01:04.480]is the consideration of
transportation for shipping
[00:01:07.295]and designing a product
where we can maximize
[00:01:11.440]the number of cushions
on a shipping container,
[00:01:14.910]and the trailer was very,
very important to us.
[00:01:17.260]And that was a challenge
from the design engineering
[00:01:19.330]standpoint to, to limit the
length of the device, could be.
[00:01:23.659]- NUtech has been really
instrumental in setting up
[00:01:25.960]this whole partnership.
[00:01:26.930]TrafFix had known us for a
long time, and they reached out
[00:01:29.460]around 2015 and said, you know, look,
[00:01:32.340]we want to design some new products,
[00:01:34.210]we need help doing that,
[00:01:35.640]we know that you guys specialize in that.
[00:01:38.350]The NUtech was really the
link between those two groups.
[00:01:41.670]They helped us set up what the
agreements would be between
[00:01:44.650]both groups, how the
partnership would work,
[00:01:46.550]how the technology would then
be employed, and set out and
[00:01:50.070]how each group can benefit from it.
[00:01:52.180]- We really, really
enjoyed working with NUtech
[00:01:55.571]at University of Nebraska,
Ron Fowler, and his team.
[00:02:00.069]- And that collaboration has
helped us to better understand
[00:02:03.801]the process with NUtech to
take this research project from
[00:02:08.130]essentially a napkin, to real
life is where we're at today.
[00:02:12.020]So they helped us guide us
through that, that avenue to,
[00:02:15.670]to reach that point.
[00:02:16.985]- My colleagues here at Dr.
Fallor, Scott Rosenbach,
[00:02:20.510]Jennifer Smith, Cody Stoli,
[00:02:21.931]they were really involved in the design.
[00:02:23.870]We had grad students and
undergrads that helped us with it.
[00:02:26.500]Our test site, which
was run by Jim Holloway,
[00:02:29.150]they did all of the developmental testing.
[00:02:30.870]- You have to throw a thanks
out to TrafFix themselves,
[00:02:33.210]for really kind of getting
this going. And then, you know,
[00:02:35.430]everybody at NUtech,
as far as, like I said,
[00:02:37.560]setting that business framework
that allows us to work
[00:02:41.160]- [Bob] A system like this
can be employed almost
[00:02:43.380]on every highway system in the country,
[00:02:44.930]and it really is a
dangerous hazard out there,
[00:02:47.365]but your cars are really only
designed to stop you if you
[00:02:50.020]impact a hard point or a rigid
hazard at up to 30 miles an
[00:02:53.670]hour, so your highway speeds
are a lot higher than that,
[00:02:56.670]so these devices have to
be there to protect you
[00:02:59.540]if you go off the road.
[00:03:01.100]- I think it'll really help
with just making the highways
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