Dr. Richard Li Receives Grant For Automated Driving Research

May 22, 2018

Tucked quietly away in WS Speed Hall is the Center for Transportation Innovation directed by Assistant Professor Dr. Richard Li, a member of the Department Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) who focuses on Transportation Engineering. Li was recently awarded an EVPRI grant, as well as a KYTC grant for his work on “Assessing Kentucky Drivers Acceptance and Behaviors of Automated Driving.” He uses his center to conduct tests on the various mechanisms required for autonomous automated vehicles -self-driving cars- to respond under a host of conditions, a precursor to the inevitable deployment of AI piloted transportation.

“In fact, many auto manufacturers, shared mobility companies such as Uber, as well as tech companies such as Waymo, have already been testing their automated vehicles on public roads," Li said. "Most companies claim that they plan to release their autonomous vehicle models around 2020-2025.”

His current research is directed at evaluating the public acceptance of automated vehicles, model and evaluate driver’s behaviors at different levels of the automated driving via quantitative and qualitative analysis.

While there is a lot of competition from industry in terms of manufacturing safe and reliable vehicles, researchers in CEE are an essential component to helping to keep the roads safe by helping informing decision makers with logistical needs to support the influx of automated vehicles.

“The foundation Civil Engineering can lay for AV implementation is focused on the following aspects: policy support, infrastructure readiness, data support readiness, safety support, and mobility enhancement," said Li. "In my opinion, these five aspects are sequential.”

In order to satisfy those concerns, researchers need to remain a step ahead by collecting data on what to expect, from traffic flow, from roadway inventory data to real-time traffic and closures. Funded by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Li’s research will focus on the collection of data to help identify problems in advance to help provide qualitative and quantitative information to KYTC and the state government for making decisions on policies related to automated vehicles legislation, developing road map, and field testing.

“We will invite Kentucky drivers, and perform driving simulation experiment, collect data and evaluate driver’s behaviors and safety performance under automation levels 0, 2, 3, and 4," Li said. "At the same time, we will conduct a statewide public survey to assess the public acceptance of the automated vehicle technology, and understand the affordability, and desired automated vehicle transportation serviced by the Kentucky public.”

The project began on April 1st, 2018 and is expected to continue until June 30th, 2020, a continuation of his overall research initiatives in smart cars.