U-M partners with autonomous air mobility center

October 13, 2023
Autonomous aerial vehicles are flown at M-Air, an advanced robotics testing facility for air, sea, and land, on North Campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. Photo: Joseph Xu

The University of Michigan is proud to be a partner in the pioneering Center for Autonomous Air Mobility and Sensing (CAAMS). This recognized National Science Foundation (NSF) Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (I-UCRC), established in 2022, conducts cutting-edge research and training in autonomous air mobility and sensing technology.

“As a contributing member, the University of Michigan is enabling advancements at the forefront of research on autonomous aerospace vehicles and systems,” said Dimitra Panagou, associate professor of robotics and aerospace engineering, and U-M’s site director for CAAMS.

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How can pedestrians trust autonomous vehicles

January 23, 2020

When at a crosswalk, humans can easily read a driver’s slightest nod. These gestures give us the confidence to step out into the road full of two-ton machines. With an automated vehicle, however, that human to human communication is unreliable: the driver may not be in control or even be paying attention, leaving the pedestrian unsure if they’ll be safe while crossing. 

To inform future solutions to this, a team led by Michigan researchers observed how we act as pedestrians in a virtual reality city full of autonomous vehicles.

“Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users,” said Suresh Kumaar Jayaraman, a PhD student in mechanical engineering. “If we want wide-scale adoption of autonomous vehicles, we need those who are inside and outside of the vehicles to be able to trust and be comfortable with a vehicle’s actions.” 

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What humans want, in an automated vehicle

November 8, 2019
Professors Lionel Robert and X. Jessie Yang stand in front of an autonomous vehicle at Mcity, an autonomous vehicle testing ground. Photo: Jeffrey M. Smith/School of Information.

Agreeable, conscientious, and stable. These are three human personality traits that, it turns out, we want to see in our driverless cars regardless of whether we possess them ourselves, according to a new study from the University of Michigan.

The researchers set out to examine how a person’s perception of safety in an autonomous vehicle was influenced by the degree to which the vehicle and the rider seemed to share certain “personality” traits.

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Roofing drone nails down shingles

September 23, 2019
The roofing octocopter, equipped with a nail gun, is parked near the mock roof. By setting the wooden panel at different inclines, the researchers simulated roofs with different slopes. Image credit: Matthew Romano, Michigan Robotics.

An octocopter capable of attaching asphalt shingles to roofs with a nail gun has been demonstrated at the University of Michigan’s M-Air, an outdoor autonomous system testing lab.

This aerial vehicle can position the nail gun, place the nail, and move to the next point without needing a human at the controls.

“For me, the biggest excitement of this work is in recognizing that autonomous, useful, physical interaction and construction tasks are possible with drones,” said Ella Atkins, a professor of aerospace engineering and robotics.

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How can autonomous cars best communicate with drivers?

June 24, 2019
Laboratory simulation of urban, highway and rural route driving at the U-M Transportation Research Institute. Image courtesy: UMTRI.

When working with others, clearly communicating expectations, tasks, and progress can alleviate many issues common in teamwork. What if the teammate is not another human, however, but an autonomous system helping you drive? Do drivers still want to be kept in the loop of a car’s intentions and actions?

To help answer this question, researchers at the University of Michigan led a study that put drivers in a simulation with a talking autonomous vehicle. The findings can help those who are designing autonomous vehicles to make sure drivers will adopt the autonomy and realize their safety benefits.

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