Logo: University of Southern California

Petros Ioannou to Design Smart Cars for the Megacity

New research initiative funded by Audi will develop technologies aimed at easing the congestion, dangers and inconveniences that often confront drivers in the world's largest cities
Eric Mankin
January 21, 2011 —

Viterbi School Professor Petros Ioannou and his Center for Advanced Transporation Technologies have been selected after a competitive process to be partners in the just-launched “Audi Urban Intelligent Assist” project.

Iannou will work with Audi, its Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Silicon Valley and three other academic institutions in a three-year effort to develop technologies aimed at easing the congestion, dangers and inconveniences that often confront drivers in the world’s biggest cities.

According to Ioannou, driving in an urban environment is becoming more challenging due to increasing traffic congestion that affects mobility, safety and driver comfort. The increase in population and the expansion of large cities to megacities will make the situation worse in the years ahead. New technologies and ideas can be exploited and developed that would allow the vehicle to interact with the urban environment in a much more efficient way by providing improved mobility, driving comfort and safety.

Ioannou says the aim is to take a connected car, driver assistance and infrastructure electronics to the next level by providing detailed information so motorists have a better sense of the driving conditions surrounding them. With this initiative, the universities, ERL and Audi want to cover the complete process of navigating in a megacity. The vision is to develop Audi models that will recognize individual drivers behind the wheel and monitor and learn their driving characteristics, habits, preferences.  The goal is to use that knowledge to better assist the driver with respect to safety, information, comfort, mobility as well as avoiding perceived dangerous situations and areas.

The Audi vehicles envisioned in this new project would work with a city’s connected infrastructure to, for example, reserve parking spots near the driver’s desired destination.  Or the vehicles might optimize the trip according to what is happening throughout the city. The Audi vehicle will basically take care of all the little things that make driving in the city tedious and dangerous, so that motorists can enjoy the drive and get to where they want to go efficiently, safely, and comfortably.

The other universities in the initiative are the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at San Diego and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

The USC group, to be led by Ioannou, has considerable expertise in dynamical systems, vehicles, traffic flow and control and completed a wide range of projects on topics such as: cruise control design; steer and drive by wire control; modeling and identification of brake dynamics; adaptive cruise control; human factors associated with adaptive cruise control; time to collision estimate and analysis; reliability of forward looking sensors; lane change safety analysis; Traffic flow modeling and control, microscopic and macroscopic traffic simulations, vehicle routing, container terminal operations modeling and simulations intelligent flight control, control of space structures and others.

Ioannou received the 2008 IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society Outstanding ITS Application Award and the 2009 IET Heaviside Medal for Achievement in Control by the Institution of Engineering and Technology  for his work in the area of intelligent vehicle and transportation technologies in addition to several prior awards in control systems. He is the author/co author of 8 books and over 200 papers in the area of control systems and transportation. He is a Fellow of IEEE, IFAC and IET