Strategic Scope

Sensing, Wireless, and Data: These technology domains are experiencing mutually-reinforcing revolutions that will culminate in massive disruption of the automotive sector. A multitude of smart networked sensors already enable an unprecedented awareness of the car, its passengers, and the environment. Advances in cellular and millimeter-wave communications systems are fast making ubiquitous ultra-low-delay and high-bandwidth communications a reality. Building on these technologies embedded in the car, cloud-based large-scale data analytics will provide the rich and nuanced situational awareness needed for large-scale deployment of fully automated vehicles. From the cellular industry’s perspective, such cloud-based control data and latency-intensive computing in the automotive vertical could make this a key driver for early deployment of 5G cellular systems. In short, vehicular systems are fast becoming the engineering frontier, bringing together communications, sensing, data analytics, and control.

UT has just launched a new center, called SAVES, to address the challenges of wireless, networking, and sensing in vehicular systems. SAVES brings together academic and industry stakeholders in different domains of the automotive market, with an emphasis on communication and information technologies. The center provides a common framework for the development of advanced vehicle connectivity, infrastructure to support connectivity, technologies for sensing, including imaging, radar and location, and applications of connectivity. SAVES includes direct support of student research and programs, giving stakeholders an early inside view of roadblocks and trends in automotive connectivity.

UT has the top talent needed to establish SAVES and make it prosper. Researchers at UT are at the forefront of communications, sensing, and data---the ingredients of disruption in the automotive sector. UT is developing advanced millimeter wave communication technologies that will increase by 100x the data rate between vehicles, and between vehicles and infrastructure. Such high-rate links will free the sensors now being deployed in vehicles from the limitations of local processing. UT is developing image processing algorithms that use low-cost cameras to enhance automotive safety. UT’s data science researchers are developing best-in-class techniques for storing, processing, and learning from huge data sets, both for real-time operation and 
long-term analysis and planning; their innovations in machine learning, networking, and data mining have already been successfully applied to social networks, transportation systems, wireless networks, and health care. UT also has experts working at the forefront of sensor fusion and location for fully-automated vehicles.

SAVES is a research center within UT’s Wireless Networking and Communications Group (WNCG), the top wireless center in the United States. Having WNCG as its parent organization uniquely equips SAVES to tackle challenges related to next-generation connected vehicles. WNCG’s thought leaders in wireless communication have pioneered the design and analysis of MIMO communication systems, small cells, and millimeter-wave communication. Its Emmy-award-winning faculty in video processing are eager to apply their skills to automotive systems. Finally, SAVES has a valuable connection with federal and state transportation agencies via its partnership with the UT Center for Transportation Research. In all, SAVES has strong links with two dozen faculty and more than a hundred and fifty top graduate students, all eager to transform the transportation industry.

Center Organization

SAVES is composed of member companies, faculty, and graduate students. Upon joining SAVES and paying the membership fee, member companies will automatically become full WNCG affiliate members. Each company will designate one representative to join the SAVES advisory board. Faculty who have an interest in the SAVES mission are welcome to join, typically acting as principal investigators (PIs) on projects sponsored by SAVES, or on leveraged projects of interest to SAVES member companies.

The primary mission of the center is to engage in collaborative member-directed research. Each member company will hand pick projects submitted by faculty affiliate members. Projects will fund a 9-month GRA with the expectation that the company hires the GRA for a summer internship. Collaboration by companies on projects is encouraged but one company should serve as the main administrative point of contact.

The organizational aspects of SAVES are run at UT. There is a nominal director of the center who manages operations at UT. SAVES leverages the existing WNCG staff for administrative assistance. There is one staff point-of-contact for the center.

Leadership aspects of SAVES are directed by an advisory board comprising the SAVES Director, the WNCG Director (or appointed member), the UT Center for Transportation Research Director (or appointed member), and one representative from each member company. 

The main responsibility of the advisory board is to select projects for funding and to calibrate center membership requirements over time (e.g., required number of RAs). The advisory board also refines the SAVES vision, promotes SAVES both internally and externally, and helps to recruit new members.

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