Texas A&M University College of Engineering students recently placed second in the AutoDrive challenge, held in Yuma Arizona and sponsored by General Motors and the Society for Automotive Engineers. The competition ran from April 30 to May 5 and involved 40 Texas A&M engineering students led by Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) Assistant Research Scientist Alireza Talebpour, assistant professor of civil engineering at Texas A&M. The challenge is slated to recur every three years.
“I’m incredibly proud of my students,” says Talebpour. “We had students that were spending day and night working on this car, and the team’s success is a testament to their amazing work ethic.”
Eight U.S. university teams competed in the AutoDrive challenge this year, the first such event of its kind. Students are tasked to develop and exhibit the capabilities of an autonomous vehicle in multiple driving scenarios. On the obstacle avoidance course, Texas A&M’s team, named “The 12th Unmanned,” achieved the fastest performance time while successfully detecting and avoiding obstacles.
In his talk as the opening speaker of a Bloomberg Government symposium on transportation infrastructure on May 16, Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) Agency Director Greg Winfree predicted the coming integration of connected-automated vehicles (CAVs) would constitute a “bit of the Wild West.” Winfree was referring to the challenge of CAVs and human-driven cars sharing the road for the next several decades as “simple human behavior versus digitized behavior” requires a focus on “situational awareness” among all vehicles, whether self-driven or not.
That human element is vital, not just for how human drivers will interact with CAVs, but also to how teams of talented researchers will interact with each other. The 12th Unmanned team, for example, is comprised of students from multiple engineering disciplines and backgrounds. That’s why, Talebpour says, the team’s management leaders will make interdisciplinary communication a priority. Inventive people, like innovative technologies, will need to integrate successfully to create a safer, more efficient transportation system of the future.
“The GM AutoDrive competition encourages young minds to think creatively to meet the challenges associated with integrating CAVs into our transportation system,” says Christopher Poe, TTI’s assistant director for connected and automated transportation strategy. “We couldn’t be more proud of these Aggie innovators and hope to see some of them in transportation research careers in the future.” | Read More