Autonomy-related Research

Picture of Traffic

Safety-critical Wireless Mobile Systems


It’s 2030, and a pack of autonomous vehicles cruising down Interstate 64, bumper-to-bumper and at high speed, overtake a large tractor-trailer. As the cars adjust their paths to go around the lumbering truck, they communicate wirelessly to one another to coordinate their movements. Within minutes, the cars clear the truck and keep going.

It all looks fairly easy, but it’s not. If the large, reflective surface of the truck interferes with the wireless signals, well … it might not lead to a great outcome for the passengers.

This is just one of the technological hurdles that must be overcomed if the bold new future of autonomous vehicles is to be realized. Click the picture to the left (we promise it is not an ad!) for more.

Autonomous & Connected Vehicles

Black Sheep Films

PVM Policy

PDM Policy

We are developing a platoon-based approach for the cooperative intersection management problem. We assert that leveraging the platooning capability of autonomous vehicles could

  • improve the efficiency of any policy at an intersection, in terms of average delay time per vehicle

  • can reduce the communication overhead in the vicinity of intersections by a factor of up to the average platoon size.

We also develop a new autonomous intersection management method that

  • guarantees the safety of traffic by allowing one platoon in the conflict zone at any time.

We examine the effects of platooning on a simple stop sign at a single 4-way intersection in a simulated environment and report the results across these metrics:

  • average delay per vehicle and communication overhead

  • average wait time per vehicle

  • variance in delay with that of a stop sign.

Development of Safe Autonomous and Cyber-Physical Systems

Air Traffic Control

Implementation of autonomous systems depends on their ability to be used safely by humans in a wide variety of operating conditions. Our interest in aiding the development of autonomous systems will:

  • develop novel planning and control algorithms for safety-critical applications like driving and traffic management

  • use rigorous, top-down systems engineering to identify requirements for automation, including how humans interact with these systems. Recent results demonstrate the capability of these new techniques with respect to analysis and identification of requirements fleming2013safety.

  • involve safety-driven development of autonomous systems and decision support tools, where safety-related properties and hazard analysis are explicitly made part of the trade space and design decision process;

  • explicitly consider human interaction with autonomous and cyber-physical systems. Doctoral work considers the interaction between control systems on-board aircraft, on the ground, and human operators in both domains;

  • extend systems-theoretic modeling of early concepts to executable models and simulations. This thread of research seeks to use results of early-phase analyses to guide the design process from concept development to increasingly mature designs that can be systematically simulated and tested.