- U of W research could revolutionize the way we drive
U of W research could revolutionize the way we drive
A group of University of Windsor researchers are programming sophisticated technology designed to drastically reduce roadway collisions — research that could revolutionize the way drivers navigate streets and highways, and position the university at the forefront in the development of autonomous vehicles.
Computer science professors Arunita Jaekel and Robert Kent, along with several graduate students, are working with Troy, Mich.-based Arada Systems, which has developed devices that enable vehicle-to-vehicle communication as well as vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.
The device connects to a vehicle’s navigational system and collects data about acceleration, speed, steering angle, velocity and spatial location, said Jaekel. The researchers are writing and testing algorithms that turn this information into safety warnings and gives drivers the heads-up about such hazards as vehicles in blind spots, the location of oncoming emergency vehicles and nearby vehicles about to run a stop sign.
Automakers as well as high-tech giants Google and Apple are in a global race to develop autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles.
“Everyone agrees the industry is heading in that direction,” Jaekel said. “And we need to be there right at the beginning. Hopefully we can build the research group up and position ourselves to be a major player in that.”
As well, the U.S. and Canadian governments are looking into mandating vehicle-to-vehicle communication, said Jaekel. “Before you can have self-driving cars, the first step is to have vehicles communicate with each other even when there is a human driver in the vehicle,” she said.
Jordan Willis, who recently graduated with a masters degree in computer science, said the new technology reduces the risk of traffic accidents.
“Say a queue of five cars is all driving in the same lane, when suddenly the driver at the front of the queue slams on their brakes, leaving everyone scrambling to quickly brake. If the on-board device alerts them to the braking before they see it’s needed, everyone slows down together and this drastically reduces the risk of multiple collisions.”
Jaekel said collision warning systems could reduce non-impaired collisions by 70 to 80 per cent.
The technology also could improve traffic flow and ease congestion, particularly at border crossings.
“Although there are a lot of different applications with this, the most important right now is safety,” she said.