Audi has turned to a USC professor and five students to improve its automobile technology.
The aim of the new three-year research initiative, which is called “Audi Urban Intelligent Assist,” which provides detailed information to drivers so they have a better sense of the driving conditions surrounding them.
“Working on this project is good for the university and we will also be able to further our research,” said Petros Ioannou, professor and director of the Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies, which engages in transportation research.
Ioannou’s team consists of masters student Brandon Foster, studying computer science, and Ph.D students Afshin Abadi studying electrical engineering aerospace & mechanical engineering, Tooraj Rajabioun, studying electrical engineering, Vadim Butakov, studying electrical engineering and Yun Wang, studying electrical engineering systems, who will receive funds for their work while the projects will help them work toward their degrees.
The students were chosen based on their credentials, grades and ability to do research in the area, according to Ioannou.
Ioannou said the USC students will be designing technology that cars cab utilize in large cities. For example, the car will know to take a different route if there is road construction or traffic congestion.
Audi experts selected USC students to work on the project, which began Jan. 1, because the Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies is well known for its research in vehicles, according to Ioannu.
“Each student is responsible for a specific part of the project,” Rajabioun said. “This research is unique and no other universities are doing the same research. Therefore, at the end of this project, USC will be the first university to have this technology.”
The vision is to develop Audi models that will recognize individual motorists behind the wheel, know preferred destinations, routes the motorists have most commonly traveled and the time needed to reach appointments. The car will be able to help the drivers detect and avoid dangerous situations as well.
“The intent is to develop new technologies and make better use of the transportation system,” said Randolph Hall, associate director of the Center for Advanced Transportation Technology. “It connects us to one of the international auto producers and enables us to think forward.”
Mansour Rahimi, associate professor and coordinator of the human factors laboratory, said the research project deals with the intelligence transportation systems.
“This is not a new phenomenon or a new line of research, but safety and risk ultimately is a question of trust in technology,” Rahimi said. “With proper design and proper testing, however, one can minimize the hazards associated with the automated systems.”
Along with USC, the University of California, Berkley, the University of California, San Diego and the University of Michigan are also contributing to the three-year project.
“It is a great learning experience in mathematical modeling, traffic simulations and programming,” Rajabioun said. “The future connected Audi will basically take care of all the little things that make driving in the city tedious and dangers so that motorists can enjoy the drive and get to where they want to go efficiently, safely and comfortably.”