The Republic of Ireland’s Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys has launched a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) backed EUR4.2m (US$4.6m) research collaboration on driverless vehicles led by the Irish Software Research Centre (Lero).
As part of the program, researchers from Irish academia, global automotive and Irish companies will collaborate on key international challenges facing the development of driverless vehicles, especially those working in the same environments as pedestrians, animals and human-operated vehicles. The project brings together 11 companies to work on a variety of autonomous systems projects across the automotive, industrial and agricultural sectors. Researchers from across Lero along with SFI’s Connect and Insight research centers, will work with multinational industry partners such as Jaguar Land Rover, Kostal, Liebherr and Valeo; large indigenous Irish companies like Combilift and Dairymaster and smaller Irish companies including Greenval, Mobimetrix, PMS Pavement Management Services Ltd, Reamda and Transpoco.
Speaking at the program launch, Humphreys said, “I am delighted to be back here in the University of Limerick to launch this exciting EUR4.2 million research collaboration on driverless vehicles. Future Jobs Ireland is all about embracing innovation and technological change and this type of project is a great example of the capacity we have here in Ireland to be at the forefront of these cutting-edge developments. It is especially pleasing that in addition to the involvement of our universities this research also involves companies in Kerry, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Cork, Dublin and Monaghan.”
Lero’s director, Professor Brian Fitzgerald, said, “Revenues from autonomous systems have been projected to be worth over US$100bn by 20301. There is no reason why Ireland cannot be a serious research player in this vital sector. For example, we are already working with companies such as Valeo in Tuam (Galway) on autonomous vehicle research and it is Ireland’s variable climate and streetscape which gives it an advantage over the more uniform climate and road networks of, for example, San Francisco.”
Dr Aisling O’Driscoll, funded investigator with SFI’s Connect Research Center for Future Networks and Communications, said, “The launch of this collaboration is a significant development as it brings together researchers from three key areas: software, analytics and connectivity. Connect’s researchers will focus on the connectivity challenge, which is of central importance for autonomous vehicles that will need to communicate and share information with each other, with the city infrastructure, and with vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. We will explore ways to make communication networks faster, more reliable and capable of handling increased information flows, while preserving privacy. Ultimately, the goal is to make transport safer, less congested, and more environmentally friendly.”
Professor Noel O’Connor, interim CEO of SFI’s Insight Research Center for Data Analytics, added, “We are working with industry partners to study driver attention and engagement with a view to ensuring that the driver is in the loop when required and that their interaction is commensurate with their capacity at that time. The industry-led partner project will use inexpensive and unobtrusive sensors, mainly cameras, addressing situations where decisions are required in real-time. Research will use a user-centered methodology to aid in user acceptance of connected/autonomous vehicles.”