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University of Illinois Center for Autonomy

As part of a partnership between the Center for Autonomy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Grainger College of Engineering and AutonomouStuff, professors and students have long-term access to an automated Polaris GEM. Projects involving the AutonomouStuff Automated Research Development Platform began in the spring of 2019 with a focus on autonomous software. Additional projects and courses already are planned, and the GEM’s availability for other research initiatives on campus will expand.

Assistant Professor Katherine Driggs-Campbell of electrical and computer engineering is among the first researchers at the University to work with the GEM after the donation in Spring 2019. The initial efforts concentrate on autonomous software development.

“This summer, we have a few master’s students and undergraduate students working on getting the autonomous stack up and running smoothly,” Driggs-Campbell said. “Our goal for the end of the summer is to get a nice demo of the GEM smoothly navigating campus scenarios, like following and overtaking a cyclist and effectively navigating crosswalks with pedestrians.”

Side view of GEM

Other professors currently using the vehicle in their research include: Professor Geir Dellerud of mechanical science and engineering; Professor Minh Do of electrical and computer engineering; Professor Sayan Mitra of electrical and computer engineering; and Professor David Forsyth of computer science.

Mitra will be using the car in his Safety and Autonomy course in spring 2020. The first months with the GEM will be spent learning about current software modules and developing additional applications for autonomous and intelligent path following in the campus setting, including path and object detection; path planning and control; and real-time predictive safety analysis.

“We are still in the very early stages of software development and exploration,” Mitra said. “Hopefully, by the end of the summer, the software we develop and the insights we gain will be beneficial for courses and forthcoming research projects.”

Do’s plans for the vehicle include the collection and synchronization of data with LiDAR, radar and vision to develop sensor fusion algorithms for automotive applications.

Forsyth plans to teach a class using GEM that will investigate problems including; vision based detection, multi-lane model detection, on road free-space detection, traffic light detection, camera based localization, traffic sign and speed limit recognition, surround view with object detection and classification, birds eye view 360 degrees around a vehicle, sensor fusion including camera objects, lidar objects and radar tracks.