November 4, 2002
The Pontiac minivan equipped as a testbed for the General Motors Collaborative Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon by the rapid prototyping class of spring '01 drove into the headlines of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette in a series of articles showcasing research on car and driver interaction. "No more steering wheel" and "CMU work aims to change relationship between vehicle, driver" report on "steer by wire" computer processors in robust, reconfigurable electronic systems, in which components back each other up if they fail (for example, the power used for a radio could switch to operate the steering mechanism, if necessary).
Ed Schlesinger, Professor and Associate Head of ECE; Co-Director, GM Collaborative Lab at CMU, and Asim Smailagic, Senior Research Scientist, Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES), were interviewed about linking autos via networks, "context aware" computing that could sense driver fatigue, and using hand gestures and voice commands to control cars. Fingerprint recognition and cameras inside vehicles may also offer added security, while "intelligent agents" adapt to road conditions and the driver. These technologies are being developed in conjunction with CMU's Center for Cognitive Brian Imaging's (CCBI) fMRI and eye scanning studies, led by the CCBI's Co-Director, Marcel Just, D.O. Hebb Professor of Psychology.