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RANCS Research Group tests new Ford Fusion Hybrid for NSF research in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

Dr. Arman  Sargolzaei, Assistant Professor, Mechical Engineering in Resilient, Autonomous, Networked Control Systems (RANCS) Students and faculty in the Resilient, Autonomous, Networked Control Systems (RANCS) Research Group recently conducted the first test of its new Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle as part of a National Science Foundation grant for testing and verifying the safety and security of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs). The $350K grant has provided for research and development of a large-scale Hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) simulation facility for CAVs, which also offers the opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience and attract industrial partners to test their systems.

Software-driven products such as CAVs can be targets of digital disruption. RANCS Director Arman Sargolzaei, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is developing the Vehicle-in-the-Loop (ViL) facility at Tennessee Tech for testing connected and autonomous vehicles in a virtual world. This concept, known as “digital twins,” uses a virtual representation of an object or system combined with real-time data and simulation to see information happening in the physical world.

Technology partners AutonomouStuff, IPG Carmaker, and Genesys equipped the Fusion with state-of-the-art sensors that, when combined with this virtual technology, enable Sargolzaei and other researchers to simulate real-world crashes and driving scenarios to conduct tests on faults and failures in these systems, learn the potential for cyberattacks and develop a technical language for industry and regulators to communicate safety issues.

“Vehicle-in-the-Loop implementation is a significant step toward achieving safe, realistic and cost-efficient test procedures before moving the experiments onto roadways, said Sargolzaei. “The ability of this research vehicle to detect and react to simulated actors makes it an excellent platform for testing against cyberattacks in a safe and realistic environment.”

The RANCS research laboratory focuses on advancing the science in the field of Networked Control Systems (NCSs) and focuses on safety-critical cyber-physical systems such as power systems, transportation systems (unmanned aerial and ground vehicles), and biomedical systems. RANCS provides the infrastructure and support services necessary to engage faculty and students interested in multidisciplinary research, educational activities or community services.

Learn more: RANCS Research Group


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