Alabama’s Auburn University unveils sophisticated autonomous vehicle research facility

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Auburn University Research Facility
Auburn University’s new autonomous vehicle research facility is one of the few in the nation attached to a test track.

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn University on Feb. 16 announced the opening of a sophisticated new autonomous vehicle research facility at the university’s National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) test track. The research center is one of the few facilities of its kind in the nation attached to a test track.

The addition will aid researchers in Auburn University’s GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory (GAVLAB), whose work is frequently conducted outdoors.

The facility provides a garage with multiple bays and lifts for commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, office space for researchers, a conference room, and an observation area overlooking NCAT’s 1.7-mile oval test track.

“The fact that we have our own test track where we can run autonomous vehicles and autonomous testing attached to this facility I think is an unbelievably unique asset,” said David Bevly, Bill and Lana McNair Distinguished Professor of mechanical engineering and co-director of the GAVLAB, along with assistant research professor Scott Marin.

Since Bevly joined the Auburn Engineering faculty in 2001, the GAVLAB has built a strong reputation in autonomous vehicle navigation and developed a broad sponsored research portfolio, with projects ranging from the Department of Defense and the Federal Highway Administration to private industry partners.

With various sponsors visiting each month, the facility’s planned observation area gives the GAVLAB team a high-quality space to demonstrate its research. Bevly’s group has also conducted demonstrations for legislators and the Alabama Department of Transportation.

“It’s a great facility for us as a team, but also allows us to showcase our work,” Bevly said.

“Auburn is a major player in transportation engineering research in the nation,” said Steve Taylor, the College of Engineering’s associate dean for research. “The GAVLAB and our other transportation engineering researchers have brought in nearly $50 million in sponsored research awards over the past three years. This new facility is an exciting development for Auburn and there will be much more to come.”

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