$200,000 NSF grant | enhance driving technology

February 17, 2022

Written by Jeffrey Pogorski Photo by Craig Schreiner Video by Jeffrey Pogorsky

Heidian Sun, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, received a $ 200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to build advanced communication systems for self-driving cars.

“In the near future, we expect that the growth of smart cars will be very explosive. My project will allow cars to connect to each other smoothly, efficiently and reliably, ”Sun said.

While research into automated vehicles has improved their self-management capabilities, connectivity technology lags far behind. Communication is an important function for cars to talk to each other and identify roadside events such as road construction and accidents. This can provide timely traffic alerts, tips and warnings for the car’s decision-making process.

“The death rate on highways is now very high, and we believe that smart cars can reduce the death rate if cars can share information quickly and tell each other what is happening on the road,” he said.

Sun’s innovative approach uses a combination of lasers, cameras and wireless technology.

In 2021, Sun received a Regent Scholar grant from UW System along with two of his colleagues, Jiazhen Zhou and Hyen Nguyen, both associate professors of computer science. The program provided $ 50,000 for undergraduate research, leading San and his students to invent an autonomous vehicle for driving tests, which they call the HawkRover.

Associate Professor Haijian Sun received a $ 200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to build a self-driving vehicle that moves and communicates with other vehicles using lasers and cameras. The grant funds two years of graduate and undergraduate study. (video by UW-Whitewater / Jeffrey Pogorski)

San says he hasn’t seen anyone else build a car that performs the same tasks as HawkRover. He and his students hope to take it to the next level with funding from an NSF grant by integrating the HawkRover system into a full-size car.

“Together, we believe that this work can help shape a new era in intelligent transportation systems.”

About $ 89,000 of the grant will fund undergraduate and graduate students who will be involved in all aspects of this groundbreaking study. Sun wants to give back to students everything he has learned.

“It takes time and effort to work with you, and I think it’s very unique and special,” said Jack Schnorr, a computer science major from Jackson, Wisconsin. Shane Flynn, a computer science major from Belvedere, Illinois, said “this is probably the best environment that can be found to bridge the gap between classroom and professional work.”

The grant also supports STEM K-12 student summer camps, new undergraduate and graduate courses in machine learning and random processes, and the redesign of undergraduate courses in computer networking. The grant period starts on May 1, 2022 and will last until June 30, 2024.

For more information, contact Haijin Sun at 262-472-5167 or sunh@uww.edu.

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