VEMI Lab receives $500,000 NSF grant to research Autonomous Vehicles

Led by Principal Investigator Dr. Nicholas Giudice, and Co-PI Dr. Richard Corey, the VEMI Lab recently received a $500,000 National Science Foundation grant to study self-driving vehicles. A primary goal of the research is to make transportation of the future more accessible, usable and trustworthy.

This innovative University of Maine project is designed to improve user trust of fully autonomous vehicles. It will explore new ways of sharing how decisions are made and information is communicated between the human passenger and the artificial intelligence “driver,” thereby addressing the key human factors of perceived loss of control over driving activities and fear of not “knowing” what the vehicle is doing during autonomous operation.

Although the autonomous vehicle market is predicted to reach $500 billion in the next five years, the majority of R&D to-date has focused on the technical challenges of making these vehicles work well for our roads, Giudice says. Far less is known about the challenges of making these vehicles work well for the human user. Indeed, an annual AAA survey released in March found that 71 percent of people are afraid to ride in fully self-driving vehicles.

Human vehicle collaboration, the focus of the new project, represents the science of identifying the best ways for people to interact with and partner with vehicles of the future.

For more information on the research, consult the full UMaine News Release and the NSF Award announcement.