Electrical and computer engineering assistant professors Mingxi Liu, Mingyue Ji, Armin Tajalli and civil and environmental engineering assistant professor Terry Yang are co-principal investigators on a $3.5 million project that will develop a visual-based technology system to substantially reduce the cost of cooperative driving automation (CDA).

The U.S. Department of Energy Vehicles Technology Office will fund the project as part of its efforts to decarbonize the transportation sector and enhance the infrastructure needed to support the growing adoption of zero-emission vehicles. The University of South Florida will lead the project with support from 14 industry, government, non-profit and research institutions.

CDA enables automated vehicles to communicate with each other as well as the infrastructure around them to plan ahead and make decisions that improve safety and performance. It has the potential to advance transportation efficiency, increase productivity and reduce accidents caused by human error.

Existing CDA technologies use high-frequency wireless communication. While effective, the high cost of infrastructure investment has prevented it from becoming a reality. The project team will utilize existing vehicle devices and infrastructure units with low-cost sensing technologies to address this problem. They will implement message-encoded traffic signs to communicate with vehicles without requiring wireless equipment on traffic infrastructure.

The three-year collaboration will reduce the cost of sensing, communications and computation by at least 40% and necessary infrastructure by 50%. The project also aims to limit CDA energy consumption, minimize the number of non-impaired crashes and reduce road congestion.

Because CDA requires the exchange of private information between vehicles to function optimally, the team also intends to address cyber security concerns. University of Utah faculty will develop cryptology-based technology to eliminate security vulnerabilities and prevent potential privacy leakage.

The project is one of 24 research and development projects announced by the DOE for funding. The funding will enable U faculty to hire multiple new students to work on the project. To find out more and apply, visit assistant professors Liu, Ji, Tajalli, and Yang’s labs.