The development of autonomous vehicle technology has turned into a fierce and complex competition, as major automakers deal with safety issues regarding their self-driving cars and the transportation industry foresees drastic changes. Florida is seizing the challenge and positioning itself to be a leader in this global race, and so is Florida Polytechnic University.
This was the topic of the latest “In Focus with Allison Walker Torres” television show, recorded on Thursday, Aug. 9. Florida Poly senior director of special projects, Dr. Rahul Razdan, was one of the invited experts on autonomous vehicles (AV), as well as Florida Poly senior Michael Jernigan. The electrical engineering major from Winter Haven, Florida, currently works testing AV sensors at Florida Poly’s Advanced Mobility Institute (AMI).
“AV sensors can’t interpret human signals on the streets and that’s one of challenges today,” said Jernigan. “Right now I’m working on using roadway signage or some kind of signage that the sensors can recognize on the roads to try to humanize the autonomous vehicle.”
Florida Poly partnered with Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, which is developing SunTrax, a state-of-the-art test track in Polk County expected to be completed by spring 2019. Faculty and students will work on testing and improving the technology needed—sensors, wireless networks, data fusion, signal processing and artificial intelligence—to help autonomous vehicles reach the mainstream.
AMI is another Florida Poly initiative focused on applied research and partnerships designed specifically for the development and testing of autonomous vehicle-related technology.
“The core technology of autonomous vehicles is a combination of sensors with software that ties it all together,” said Razdan. “Now we have to solve how these machines can emulate human behavior, as well as reacting adequately to the different weather conditions before this technology can be fully implemented.”
Other guests who participated in recording the show were Sen. Jeff Brandes from Pinellas County, Sen. Dennis Baxley from Marion County, Rep. Wengay Newton from Florida’s district 70, Eric Hill from MetroPlan Orlando, and Beth Alden from Hillsborough County MetroPlan.
“In Focus with Allison Walker Torres” features a roundtable of thought leaders representing a full range of perspectives, including local officials and expert analysts as they tackle topical issues of importance to Floridians.
The show airs at 11:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Sundays, on Spectrum News 13 throughout Central Florida and Spectrum Bay News 9 throughout Tampa Bay.
Assistant Director of Communications