Ford and QUT collaborate on autonomous vehicle research


QUT Centre for Robotics researchers are working on a new fundamental research project with automaker, Ford Motor Company, to develop improved localisation and perceptions techniques for autonomous vehicles. 

The project will look at how cameras and LIDAR sensors, commonly used in autonomous vehicles, can better understand the world around them. 

Professor Michael Milford will lead the two-year, $271,000 project and its research team, which includes QUT research fellow Dr Sourav Garg and PhD candidate Ming Xu. 

“QUT’s Centre for Robotics has extensive experience in the areas of robotic vision and navigation, and this research project is a terrific opportunity to bring that expertise to a project with a leader in the automotive industry,” Milford said. 

“We’ll dive deep into research developing the algorithms and artificial intelligence systems that could improve the capabilities of autonomous vehicles. In particular, we’ll be looking at the synergistic relationship between autonomous vehicles and the world around them.” 

Milford said that if vehicles can understand their environment, they can better understand their surroundings, including pedestrian crossings. 

Dr. Punarjay (Jay) Chakravarty will lead the project on behalf of the Ford Autonomous Vehicle Future Tech group. The Ford and QUT team will work together to understand how to decrease the cost of autonomous vehicle technology adoption, by lowering the cost of sensing and computing using deep learning technology. 

The partnership highlights the vital role Australian universities play in working with industry to innovate and advance technology, Ford Australia manager of University Programs Richard Taube said. 

“Ford Motor Company collaborates strategically with top Australian universities, and this collaboration with QUT on AV subsystems is confirmation that Australian universities are world-class in many areas and provide value to Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering function,” he said. 

The QUT Centre for Robotics has a long history of working to better understand autonomous vehicle technologies, especially around perception and localisation systems, which makes the collaborative research a seamless fit. 

Milford has worked with autonomous vehicle projects in mining, as well as a project which involved taking an artificial intelligence system on a road trip to identify the key role high-definition annotated maps could play in autonomous driving on Australian roads. 

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