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Mid-America Transportation Center

Towards Autonomous Vehicles

Final Report
click to download report


Researchers

  • Principal Investigator: Chris Schwarz (cschwarz@nads-sc.uiowa.edu 3193354642)
  • Co-Principal Investigator: Geb Thomas ( gthomas@engineering.uiowa.edu 319-335-5936)
  • Project Status
    Complete
    About this Project
    Brief Project Description & Background
    From the self-driving Google car to plain old cruise control, automation in vehicles is an important issue. Increasing levels of automation in modern vehicles is an opportunity and a challenge. Fortunately, many of the technologies and issues have been studied in other fields and are being applied to passenger vehicles; however, a report on the state-of-the-art is required for practitioners and policy makers who are not necessarily versed in relevant fields like artificial intelligence and robotics. A desired outcome of this research is that the final report may be used as a guide to select future research topics in the short, mid, and long term on this important topic.
    Research Objective
    The aim of this project is to document the state of the art of autonomous vehicles for use in the United States transportation sector, specifically on U.S. roads and highways. A literature survey will be conducted that spans several intersecting fields, including artificial intelligence, robotics, mechatronics, military unmanned vehicles, intelligent transportation systems, and human factors. Additionally, interviews with thought-leaders in the field will be conducted, and educational scenarios illustrating issues and benefits with autonomous vehicles will be constructed on a driving simulation platform.
    Potential Benefits
    Autonomy in vehicles will enhance safety to reacting to emergency scenarios faster than a human driver could and by reducing the workload of the driver. It will also increase the efficiency of the modern transportation system by allowing for greatly increased traffic density. The general state of repair of the vehicle population will rise due to the increased level of sensors and diagnostic systems. Finally, sustainability will be enhanced through the reduction in stop-and-go traffic scenarios, lowering net trip times, and creating opportunities for ride/car-sharing. Finally, more efficient transportation systems will reduce the need to build new roads and widen existing ones.
    Abstract
    From the self-driving Google car to plain old cruise control, automation in vehicles is an important issue. The aim of this project is to document the state of the art of autonomous vehicles for use in the United States transportation sector, specifically on U.S. roads and highways. A literature survey will be conducted that spans several intersecting fields, including artificial intelligence, robotics, mechatronics, military unmanned vehicles, intelligent transportation systems, and human factors.

    Many factors influence the adoption of autonomous transportation systems, including the pace of evolving technology, trust in automation, infrastructure demands, and the regulatory landscape. These themes will be woven into the report as they are critical pieces of the story of automation. Of particular interest is the cycle of innovation, development, government/military deployment, technology transfer, commercialization, and regulation that iteratively advance the state of the art in a field such as automation.

    One such example of a cycle of automation advancement started with a call for innovation from DARPA in the form of a Grand Challenge, and later an Urban Grand Challenge for the development of unmanned autonomous ground vehicles (Urmson et al 2008, Montemerlo et al, 2008). This resulted in a flurry of innovation and technology for the military. It has also borne technology transfer fruit leading directly to the development of the Google car. This cycle is continuing with the creation of a new office in the USDOT on automation and cybersecurity that may result in regulations for autonomous vehicles even as it spawns new topics of research.

    We hope to lay out the trajectories of component technologies and other contributing factors in the development and adoption of automated transportation systems. A desired outcome of this research is that the final report may be used as a guide to select future research topics in the short, mid, and long term on this important topic.
    Project Amount
    $ 43868.58