Alabama’s Auburn University opens AV research facility

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Auburn University in Alabama has opened the doors to its new autonomous vehicle research facility, at Auburn’s National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) test track.

The university says the addition will aid researchers at the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering’s GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory (GAVLAB), whose work is frequently conducted outdoors.

The university notes the facility provides a garage with multiple bays and lifts for commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, office space for researchers, a conference room and an observation area overlooking NCAT’s 1.7-mile oval test track.

“The fact that we have our own test track where we can run autonomous vehicles and autonomous testing attached to this facility I think is an unbelievably unique asset,” said David Bevly, the Bill and Lana McNair distinguished professor of mechanical engineering and co-director of the GAVLAB.

Since Bevly joined the Auburn engineering faculty in 2001, the GAVLAB has built a strong reputation in autonomous vehicle navigation and developed a broad sponsored research portfolio, with projects ranging from the Department of Defense and the Federal Highway Administration to many private industry partners. With various sponsors visiting each month, the facility’s planned observation area also gives the GAVLAB team a space to demonstrate its research.

“Auburn is a major player in transportation engineering research in the nation,” added Steve Taylor, the College of Engineering’s associate dean for research. “The GAVLAB and our other transportation engineering researchers have brought in nearly US$50m in sponsored research awards over the past three years. This new facility is an exciting development for Auburn, and there will be much more to come.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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