U of Minnesota gets $1.75 million to study autonomous vehicles

ECN Magazine reports…

The University of Minnesota announced today that it has received a $1.75 million grant over three years from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of the NSF’s Smart & Connected Communities grant program. The University of Minnesota’s project is one of only 13 projects chosen by NSF nationwide.

The grant, entitled Leveraging Autonomous Shared Vehicles for Greater Community Health, Equity, Livability, and Prosperity (HELP), supports fundamental research on a critical challenge facing many cities and communities—how to leverage the emergence of self-driving vehicles, also known as autonomous vehicles, to rethink and redesign future transportation services and enable smart and connected communities where everyone benefits.

The research envisions an ambitious “smart cloud commuting system” based on giant pools of shared autonomous vehicles.

“These smart cloud community systems have the potential to bring about far-reaching societal changes,” said Zhi-Li Zhang, a University of Minnesota computer science professor of computer science and engineering in the College of Science and Engineering who is the lead researcher on the grant.

The proposed smart cloud commuting system would also provide equity and boost economic productivity.

It’s great news. And nothing feels more like we’re moving into a Jetson’s cartoon than autonomous cars – but that will only be true where the cloud is available.

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