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Vendor Newsmaker Q&A: Huei Peng, Mcity

What are the differences between connected, automated and autonomous vehicles?
Sunday, June 16, 2019 - 07:00
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Along with serving as the Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, Dr. Huei Peng is also director of Mcity, the school’s 32-acre vehicle technology testing facility.

His research interests include adaptive control and optimal control, with an emphasis on their applications to vehicular and transportation systems.

Over the past 20 years Peng has worked on vehicle automation, vehicle dynamics, design and assessment of active safety systems, and human model development -- with a special focus on understanding how they err. He has served as the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on more than 50 research projects with a total funding of $30-plus million.

He has appeared in more than 240 technical publications, including 100 contributions in referred journals along with authoring four books.

Peng is an SAE Fellow and an ASME Fellow. He is additionally a ChangJiang Scholar at the Tsinghua University of China.

The professor and his team have responded to a series of questions pertaining to the development of driverless vehicle technologies:

When will we actually see driverless vehicles on the road?
Driverless vehicles are already on the road in limited numbers through initiatives such as Uber’s fleet of driverless taxis. And several automakers have announced plans to have driverless cars on the road in some way by 2021.

Generally speaking, though, we expect to see fully automated vehicles deployed gradually, perhaps beginning with commercial fleets, such as freight trucks, shuttle services at amusement parks, airports and on university campuses. It will likely be some time before fully automated vehicles are sold on the mass market to the average consumer.

In the meantime, driver-assist technologies are already available to help drivers parallel park, stay in the correct lane, keep a safe distance from the lead vehicle and see what’s in their blind spot, among other things. More and more automated features are being tested and made available in new vehicles.

What are the barriers to progress?
A host of advances in such areas as connected and automated vehicle systems, multi-modal transportation, traffic performance management, shared vehicle use, as well as in new fuels, novel engine design, alternative energy sources, and advanced materials, offer great promise to address the challenges and, in the process, to truly revolutionize mobility in societies worldwide. Individually, none of these advances will have the impact needed; we must look at our mobility system as a whole.

To date, there has been little work on how to integrate the technical, economic, social, and policy considerations to create a viable mobility “system” that meets the dynamic needs of a changing society.

While the technology is compelling, this new “mobility package” needs to be highly attractive to users throughout society and needs to be commercially successful, creating many new business partnerships and opportunities. We’ll also need to consider robust cybersecurity models and possibly a new legal, liability and insurance framework.

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