General Motors and Carnegie Mellon University have decided to continue the work that resulted in victory in the DARPA Urban Challenge last year. The school and the automaker are establishing a collaborative research lab to continue the work they have done on autonomous driving. The lab will be located on-site at CMU in Pittsburgh, PA and will work directly GM Global R&D. Carnegie Mellon has worked on autonomous vehicles since 1984 and GM has been a part of the program since 2000.

Automonomous vehicles have the potential for fuel consumption and emissions reductions by removing the biggest variable in the vehicle control loop, the driver. The combination of autonomous vehicle control with vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastucture communications could improve traffic flow. Because such systems can "see ahead" and react more quickly than most drivers, they may be able to avoid a lot of the stop-start behavior that often triggers traffic jams. This would allow occupants to get to their destinations more quickly and emit less in the process. GM's press release is after the jump.

Press Release:

General Motors, Carnegie Mellon Commit To Develop Driverless Vehicles

PITTSBURGH-General Motors Corp. and Carnegie Mellon University today announced a new Collaborative Research Lab (CRL) and a renewed commitment to work jointly on technologies that will accelerate the emerging field of autonomous driving - a family of electronics and software technologies that could influence the way drivers and their vehicles interact in the future.

The GM-Carnegie Mellon Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab is being established under the terms of a five-year, $5 million agreement. The lab will operate as an extension of GM's Global Research & Development network and will be located at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. Faculty from the university's School of Computer Science and College of Engineering will participate.

"GM and Carnegie Mellon University have a lengthy and successful history of working together on autonomous and robotic technologies," said Alan Taub, executive director of GM Research & Development in Warren, Mich. "We have a shared vision of developing technologies that have the potential to resolve transportation challenges. Continuing this successful working relationship is a natural next step toward achieving our mutual goals."

GM teamed with Carnegie Mellon last November to win first place in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge, a competition between driverless vehicles over a 55-mile course of urban and suburban roadways held in Victorville, Calif. The race was a historic event for personal transportation, and an emphatic proof point that autonomous technology is real - cars can drive themselves.

"Technologies ranging from electronics, controls and software to wireless capabilities and digital mapping could ultimately change how people drive and use their vehicles," said Larry Burns, GM vice president of R&D and Strategic Planning. "Imagine being virtually chauffeured safely in your car while Page 2 of 2/ General Motors, Carnegie Mellon Commit To Develop Driverless Vehicles doing your e-mail, eating breakfast and watching the news. The work we're doing with Carnegie Mellon is a big stepping stone toward making this a reality."

"Carnegie Mellon has been a pioneer in autonomous navigation of robotic vehicles, beginning in 1984 with our series of NavLab vehicles," said Rick McCullough, Carnegie Mellon vice president for research. "We are eager to see this technology used to improve the safety and convenience of the cars and trucks we depend upon every day and we could wish for no better partner than GM to make this happen." In 2000, General Motors and Carnegie Mellon established their first CRL to conduct joint research in smart car technology and in 2003 that commitment to work together was renewed. The work of that CRL continues and, though it is separate from the new Autonomous Driving CRL, its success was a factor in the decision to launch the new CRL.

"Carnegie Mellon is one of only 10 academic institutions around the world involved in GM's CRL program," said Nady Boules, director of the Electrical & Controls Integration Lab at GM R&D and co- director of the new CRL. "Working with the best in a specific field significantly expands GM's technical capabilities in areas we consider strategic."

"Research in this new lab will focus on creating and maturing the underlying technologies required to build the autonomous vehicle of the future," said Raj Rajkumar, Carnegie Mellon professor of electrical and computer engineering and co-director of the new CRL. "Autonomous vehicles will change the face of transportation by reducing deaths and injuries from automobile accidents and increasing the convenience and comfort of vehicles."

[Source: General Motors]

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