Written by: 
Amy Brundeen

Qing Yang and Song Fu, researchers in UNT's College of Engineering, are working to advance the safety and awareness of autonomous vehicles by developing a method for them to work together. They have earned $1 million in grant funding from the National Science Foundation for various projects in connected autonomous vehicles.

"Consensus is growing among engineers and researchers that self-driving cars aren't yet perceptive enough to make them safe to drive on public roads," Yang, assistant professor of computer science, says.

Creating a Network

Yang and Fu, together with student researchers, are developing a way for vehicles to exchange fully processed data to others around them to better detect objects near them while on the road. The goal of their work is to link all autonomous cars via wireless communication techniques, creating a network through which the vehicles can get a better sense of their surroundings, communicating information about everything from traffic flow to malfunctioning stoplights.

"Machine learning programs will utilize the collected data to build an informational map to make a decision about what actions to take regarding the object on the road," Yang says.

Workforce Training

The two also are creating workforce development trainings for researchers in connected autonomous vehicles. They plan to offer annual trainings along with summer research opportunities for undergraduates and at international conferences. Additionally, they are creating an industry advisory board that includes researchers from companies such as Fujitsu Network Communications, Texas Instruments and Microsoft Research, as well as government agencies like the National Science Foundation, Texas Department of Transportation and researchers from other universities to ensure the training stays up-to-date with current trends and developments within the field.

"It's combining all the new technologies, like self-driving cars, Internet of Things and also edge computing -- all new technologies the industry is very interested in," Fu, associate professor of computer science and engineering, says.

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