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Automated driving on rural roads: Federal grant supports A&M study

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The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) has been awarded $7 million in federal grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to study automated driving systems.

Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao made the announcement last week of $60 million in federal grant funding to eight projects in seven states to test the safe integration of automated driving systems on U.S. roadways. 

TEES researchers will develop and test automated driving systems for rural roads without high-definition maps and with no or low-quality road signs or markings. The principal investigator for the project is Alireza Talebpour, assistant professor in Texas A&M University’s Zachry Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. Co-principal investigators are Reza Langari, department head, professor and holder of the J.R. Thompson Chair in the Department of Engineering Technology & Industrial Distribution; Dezhen Song, associate department head and professor, and Dilma Da Silva, professor and holder of the Ford Motor Company Design Professorship II, both from the Department of Computer Science & Engineering.

“This award from the U.S. Department of Transportation will help Texas A&M advance its autonomous vehicle research by studying rural roadways,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “Most autonomous research so far has focused on cities. But Texas A&M wants to broaden the scope, and Texas has plenty of rural roadways for testing, which can help advance research in this area.”

“The department is awarding $60 million in grant funding to test the safe integration of automated vehicles into America’s transportation system while ensuring that legitimate concerns about safety, security and privacy are addressed,” said Chao.

Chao made the announcement at the Federal Highway Administration Research Showcase, an event promoting the importance of research and innovation in transportation. The event featured exhibits and demonstrations of the ongoing research, emerging technologies and capabilities of the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center.