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Florida Poly lands grant for expanded autonomous vehicle research

The grant will fund new technology that allows better real-life research.

Florida Polytechnic University won a $350,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a simulation facility to develop connected and autonomous vehicle technology.

The grant will help fund the development of a large-scale hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulation facility to serve as a real-time simulation to help develop and test systems for autonomous and connected vehicle technology. The school expects to have the new lab operating by the spring semester.

“I thank the National Science Foundation for their support of Florida Polytechnic University’s research and development of autonomous vehicle technology,” said Sen. Marco Rubio. “Autonomous vehicle research is critical to the future of transportation in the state of Florida, and I look forward to Florida Poly’s continued leadership in this space.”

The HIL simulation facility will provide researchers from Florida Poly’s Advanced Mobility Institute a more realistic approach to the testing and verification procedures than they currently have. The new abilities will include research on how autonomous vehicles operate independent of weather or electromagnetic interferences, while surrounded by non-verbal human communication such as gestures and signals.

“So far we’ve been working and generating different scenarios as models for software-in-the-loop testing, but only doing it with software is not as realistic,” said Arman Sargolzaei, assistant professor of electrical engineering and the grant’s lead investigator. “The new hardware-in-the-loop facility will allow us to do testing that is closer to real-world scenarios.”

He said the new technology is a step forward in achieving cost-efficient and safe test procedures before migrating to road or test track experiments.

“Advancing hardware-in-the-loop application domain to the era of [connected and autonomous vehicles] will lead to a set of exemplary breakthroughs in the field of transportation research,” Sargolzaei said. “We are excited for the establishment of this new facility to accelerate our research mission, which is to make automated vehicles more safe and secure.”

Other researchers collaborating on the grant’s research include Suleiman Alsweiss, Ala Alnaser, Jorge Vargas, Saleem Sahawneh, and Rahul Razdan from the Advanced Mobility Institute, and Mustafa Ilhan Akbas from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

The Advanced Mobility Institute is the largest research effort in the country dedicated exclusively to testing and verifying connected and autonomous vehicle technology. It has developed partnerships at the state, national, and international levels including through SunTrax, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, and TalTech University in Estonia, among others.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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