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New autonomous vehicle course puts students on fast track to industry

Opportunities within the future of autonomous vehicle technology earned a big boost after Columbus won the U.S. Department of Transportation's first-ever Smart City Challenge. At The Ohio State University, students now have a fast track into the industry early.

A new course, “Autonomy in Vehicles,” taught by Levent Guvenc Ph.D., a professor in the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is already getting attention from a wide range of budding engineers at the center for Automotive Research at Ohio State.

“Some students take the course to help them get started in AV (autonomous vehicle) research, some of them just want to take it because it sounds cool, and some of them take it because there is a high demand for engineers with interest and experience in AV and the jobs being offered are good," Guvenc said.

The course, open to undergraduate seniors and graduate students, is designed to provide a high level view of autonomous and connected driving.

Guvenc said the goal is to provide his students with realistic projects they can implement into real world situations.

This past semester, the students began the course by developing a preliminary design for an autonomous shuttle capable of traveling the one mile distance between the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) the CAR West facility. Students selected the appropriate sensors, computers and then determined decision making logic for the shuttle. Their final project was to design a circular AV for the trolley route at Easton Towne Center. 

Throughout the course students also had the opportunity to visit Ohio State’s Automated Driving Lab to look at the sensors and equipment used in modern AV development. Some of the sensors they saw in action were LIDAR, a detection tool to measure distance with a laser light. It provides a 3D point cloud of the environment with a 360 degree view angle, camera, radar and DSRC radio for vehicle-to-everything communication.

On top of that, students were able to watch a demonstration of the visualization of the environment with some of these sensors on RTMaps software.

The Ohio State AV engineering course is being offered in alternating years, initially as a distance education course. It is also open to working professionals who want to gain knowledge in this area.

“A course like this, complemented by other courses at Ohio State, is a fundamental part of an intelligent vehicles track,” Guvenc said. “Ohio State has placed importance on autonomous vehicles as the first university in the country to develop automated driving work. All of the exciting developments like the Smart Center at TRC, Smart Columbus, US-33 Smart Mobility Corridor and Drive Ohio will soon result in AV deployments in Ohio and attract AV jobs to our state. It is Ohio State’s duty to offer first class research and education in AVs to support these goals.” 

Article edited from the original written by Colleen Herr, CAR Marketing and Communications Specialist