Auburn University in Alabama has opened an autonomous vehicle research facility at its National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) test track — one of the few facilities of its kind in the USA that is attached to a test track. The facility will aid researchers in Auburn University’s GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory (GAVLAB), whose work is frequently conducted outdoors.
The facility includes a garage with multiple bays and lifts that can accommodate 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.
“I think the fact that we have our own test track where we can run autonomous vehicles and autonomous testing attached to this facility is an unbelievably unique asset,” said David Bevly, co-director of the GAVLAB.
The GAVLAB handles projects for clients ranging from the Department of Defense, the Federal Highway Administration, legislators, the Alabama Department of Transportation, and many private industry partners. Various sponsors visit the facility each month, so an observation area is planned, to give the GAVLAB team a high-quality space to demonstrate their research.
“It’s a great facility for us as a team, but also allows us to showcase our work,” explained Bevly.
With a growing research thrust in transportation engineering, the autonomous research facility also demonstrates Auburn’s commitment to supporting these research initiatives.
“Auburn is a major player in transportation engineering research in the nation,” added Steve Taylor, associate dean for research. “The GAVLAB and our other transportation engineering researchers have brought in nearly US$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.”