Rajkumar to Co-Direct New Lab to Develop Driverless Vehicles

 

June 20, 2008

ECE Professor Raj Rajkumar believes that autonomous vehicles will change the face of transportation. And he predicts that this technology will be ready for production in 10 years and available in showrooms a couple years after that. As co-director of the new GM-Carnegie Mellon Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab he's going to work to make that happen.

General Motors Corp. and Carnegie Mellon University announced on June 19 a new Collaborative Research Lab (CRL) and a renewed commitment to work jointly on technologies that will accelerate the emerging field of autonomous driving -- a family of electronics and software technologies that could influence the way drivers and their vehicles interact in the future.

The GM-Carnegie Mellon Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab is being established under the terms of a five-year, $5 million agreement. The lab will operate as an extension of GM's Global Research & Development network and will be located at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. A team of faculty and students from ECE and Computer Science will be led by Rajkumar and Nady Boules, director of the Electrical & Controls Integration Lab at GM R&D and co-director of the new CRL.

"GM and Carnegie Mellon University have a lengthy and successful history of working together on autonomous and robotic technologies," said Alan Taub, executive director of GM Research & Development in Warren, Mich. "We have a shared vision of developing technologies that have the potential to resolve transportation challenges. Continuing this successful working relationship is a natural next step toward achieving our mutual goals."

GM teamed with Carnegie Mellon last November to win first place in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge, a competition between driverless vehicles over a 55-mile course of urban and suburban roadways held in Victorville, CA. The race was a historic event for personal transportation, and an emphatic proof point that autonomous technology is real -- cars can drive themselves.

"Technologies ranging from electronics, controls and software to wireless capabilities and digital mapping could ultimately change how people drive and use their vehicles," said Larry Burns, GM vice president of R&D and Strategic Planning. "Imagine being virtually chauffeured safely in your car while doing your e-mail, eating breakfast and watching the news. The work we're doing with Carnegie Mellon is a big stepping stone toward making this a reality."

In 2000, General Motors and Carnegie Mellon established their first CRL to conduct joint research in smart car technology and in 2003 that commitment to work together was renewed. Rajkumar has been the Carnegie Mellon director of this CRL since 2005. The work of that CRL continues and, though it is separate from the new Autonomous Driving CRL, its success was a factor in the decision to launch the new CRL.

"Carnegie Mellon is one of only 10 academic institutions around the world involved in GM's CRL program," said Nady Boules, who is the GM director for both CRLs. "Working with the best in a specific field significantly expands GM's technical capabilities in areas we consider strategic."

"Research in this new lab will focus on creating and maturing the underlying technologies required to build the autonomous vehicle of the future," said Rajkumar. "Autonomous vehicles will change the face of transportation by reducing deaths and injuries from automobile accidents and increasing the convenience and comfort of vehicles."

Source: Carnegie Mellon News Service

Professor Raj Rajkumar, co-director of the new GM-Carnegie Mellon Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab

Representatives from General Motors and Carnegie Mellon University announce a new Collaborative Research Lab (CRL) and a renewed commitment to work jointly on technologies that will accelerate the emerging field of autonomous driving.

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