Max Donath

Image Unavailable

Max Donath

Professor, Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering
Room 3101B
111 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455


Former Director, Roadway Safety Institute


Ph.D. 1978, Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
S.M. 1974, Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
B. Eng. 1972, Mechanical Engineering, McGill University

Professional Background

Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1990-present
Director, Roadway Safety Institute, University of Minnesota, 2013-2019
Director, Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute (ITS Institute), University of Minnesota, 1997-2013
Director, Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Design and Control, University of Minnesota, 1992-1997
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1984-1990
Visiting Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, 1986-1987
Research Biomedical Engineer, Veterans Administration Rehabilitation Research and
Development Center, Palo Alto, CA, 1986-87
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1978-1984

Scientific & Professional Societies

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)


Given the challenges of winter in Minnesota, Max Donath has been interested in how the fusion of high-accuracy GNSS and LIDAR facilitates autonomous navigation on snow-covered sidewalks in urban environments. Applications include autonomous navigation for wheelchairs, package delivery vehicle platforms and snow clearing of sidewalks. He and his group are also working on a 3rd generation human-machine interface for providing improved situation awareness for snowplow operators who have to clear roads under white-out conditions. This driver assist system is presently undergoing field operational tests at nine sites across the state.

On the teaching front, he and a team of students have developed an instructional robotics laboratory designed to educate engineers about the design, control, and programming of robot manipulators and cobots.

More on the 2nd generation snowplow driver assist system can be seen in this 2018 video:

Mobility Technology Laboratory
HumanFIRST Laboratory
Roadway Safety Institute
ME Robotics Laboratory

ME Research Areas
Sensing and Controls

ME Impact Areas
Robotics and Mobility
Next-Gen Manufacturing

Research Interests
  • Novel human-machine interface design for providing improved situation awareness for the driver and pedestrian.
  • Driver assist systems for snowplows operating in white-out conditions.
  • Autonomous navigation and wayfinding under winter conditions, focused on snow-covered sidewalks.
  • Developing experiential approaches to educating engineers about the design, control, and programming of robots.
  • Systems for supporting wayfinding and navigation for people with vision impairment.

Teaching Subjects
ME 5286: Robotics
ME Robotics Laboratory

See Max Donath's transportation-related research projects.

Honors and Awards

  • Kathy Swanson Outstanding Service Award, 2014
  • ITS Minnesota Public Sector Recognition Award, 2009
  • Richard P. Braun Distinguished Service Award, 2007
  • George W. Taylor Service Award, 2007
  • Honored as one of 92 University of Minnesota faculty and alumni (living and deceased) represented on the University’s “Wall of Discovery,” a 253-foot-long ‘artistic tribute to the process that leads to great moments of discovery.’ Unveiled September 29, 2006.

Selected Publications

• B. Davis and M. Donath, “Development of a Sensor Platform for High Accuracy Mapping of Roadway Lane Markings,” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2551, pp. 45-51, 2016.

• J. I. Creaser, C. J. Edwards, N. L. Morris and M. Donath, “Are cellular phone blocking applications effective for novice teen drivers?” Journal of Safety Research, Volume 54, September 2015.

• L. Phillips, P. Hooge, T. Meier, R. Manning, J. Hallo, R. Mace, T. Morris, J. Hourdos and M. Donath, “An integrated study of road capacity in Denali National Park,”(pp.205-223) in R. Manning, S. Lawson, P. Newman, J. Hallo and C. Monz (ed.), Sustainable Transportation in National Parks, University Press of New England, 2014.

• E. Becic, M.P. Manser, C. Drucker, and M. Donath, “Aging and the Impact of Distraction on an Intersection Crossing Assist System,” Accident Analysis and Prevention, 50, 968-974, 2013.

• E. Becic, M. Manser, J. Creaser, and M. Donath, “Intersection crossing assist system: Transition from a road-side to an in-vehicle system,” Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behavior, 15(5), 544-555, 2012.

Google Scholar Profile