Andrew Kun

Visit to Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety

Last month I had a chance to visit the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in Hopkinton, MA. My host was Bill Horrey, senior research scientist at the institute. I also had a chance to talk to Marvin Dainoff, Yulan Liang, Angela Garabet, and a number of other researchers.

The institute is truly impressive. First, as Marvin explained to me, this is an organization devoted to independent research. The institute is funded by Liberty Mutual, but sets its own agenda. The only “constraint” on this agenda is that the research has to be related to Liberty Mutual’s business. Given that this business covers areas from driving, to homes, to health care, this is hardly a constraint. Furthermore, the institute is committed to publishing its work in peer-reviewed publications. In fact, publications are the institute’s central measure of success. The institute has a hallway with three (!) whiteboards, where staff keep track of their publications for the year. Each year the goal is to fill all three boards by December.

The institute has a number of very interesting labs. Of course for me the most interesting one was the driving simulator lab (the instrumented vehicle is a very close second!). The simulator is made by Real Time Technologies and the lab also has a head-mounted eye tracker.

So thanks to Bill and colleagues for hosting me. I really enjoyed talking to them about some research problems (including their recent work on drowsy drivers [1]), as well as the technical details of running a simulator lab. You can see a few more pictures about my visit on Flickr.

References

[1] William J. Horrey, Yulan Liang, Michael L. Lee, Mark E. Howard, Clare Anderson, Michael S. Shreeve, Conor O’Brien, Charles A. Czeisler, “The Long Road Home: Driving Performance and Ocular Measurements of Drowsiness Following Night Shift-Work,” Driving Assessment 2013