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University of Virginia researcher earns award for making self-driving vehicles smarter and safer.
Madhur Behl, an Indian American researcher at the University of Virginia, has won a National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award for making self-driving vehicles smarter and safer.
Working at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, departments of Computer Science and Engineering Systems and Environment, Behl is one of 12 UVA assistant professors to win the NSF awards in 2021 so far, according to a university press release.
Using auto racing as a platform, Behl has invented artificial intelligence methods to agilely maneuver an autonomous vehicle while pushing the limits of its steering, throttle and braking capabilities.
Read: Indian American Anshumali Shrivastava bags NSF CAREER award (March 20, 2017)
His novel racing research is creating advanced algorithms that hold the key to safer autonomous vehicles, enabling them to avoid collisions even when they encounter unexpected challenges at high speeds while close to obstacles or other vehicles.
Demonstrating their skills in programming a full-sized, fully autonomous race car, Behl and his student Cavalier Autonomous Racing team clocked the fastest laps from a US university team in the historic Indy Autonomous Challenge, held Oct. 23 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In May 2020, the release noted, Partners for Automated Vehicle Education shared results from a poll of 1,200 Americans about attitudes around autonomous vehicle technology.
Three in four believed the technology was “not ready for primetime;” almost half indicated they would never ride in a self-driving car; and a fifth do not believe that autonomous vehicles will ever be safe.
The poll outlines the deep skepticism surrounding self-driving vehicles. Methods to improve – and prove – safety will be needed for broad-based acceptance.
Behl’s pioneering research at UVA is accelerating safety for autonomous vehicles, the release said.
“The CAREER Award is given to early career researchers who have the potential to make a significant impact through their careers as academic researchers and educators,” Melur “Ram” Ramasubramanian, UVA’s vice president for research, said.
“Getting 12 of these prestigious awards for our faculty so far this year is impressive, and really shows the great talent we have across the University.