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Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2022 TOPIC AREA: Connected and autonomous systems Safety and security CENTER: PSR

Systematic and Provably Safe Design Methodology for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

Project Summary

Project number: PSR-22-12
Funding source: U.S Department of Transportation
Contract number: 69A3551747109
Total cost: $100,000.00
Performance period: 8/15/2022 to 8/14/2023

Project description

Today’s sensor technologies are not at the level of emulating human eyes with 100% accuracy. Recent accidents with autonomous vehicles where sensors failed to correctly identify the threat suggests that sensor possible inaccuracies or  inability to identify upcoming obstacles due to environmental conditions, road geometry, unpredictable vehicle maneuvers and traffic conditions need to be taken into account in a more systematic way.  The safety-critical nature of autonomous vehicles calls for systematic analysis and design procedure to ensure safety of the passengers, pedestrians, and other actors on the road by taking into account sensor uncertainties, road geometry, weather, traffic conditions, traffic rules, etc. The purpose of this project is to investigate a systematic control design methodology for provably safe autonomous vehicle operations for wide range of driving conditions using dynamic safe sets. The dynamic safe sets expressed in terms of control barrier functions (CBFs) are continuously updated based on the health of sensors, road geometry, traffic rules, weather conditions, emergency situations, etc. by taking into account possible uncertainties. The vehicle controller is updated using quadratic programming optimization to keep the states of the vehicle inside the safe sets. The safe set is defined in such a way that its forward-invariance would guarantee the safety of passengers, neighboring vehicles, pedestrians, obstacles as well as compliance to traffic rules. We propose to establish a methodology for developing dynamic safe sets that are continuously updated specifying where the states of the vehicles should be in order to guarantee safe operations. We then develop a control design methodology that guarantees that the vehicle states are always inside the dynamic safe sets while maintaining mobility.  Such systematic and provable safe guaranteed control  design methodology that exploits the dynamics of the vehicle and surrounding road and traffic environment and accounts for sensor inaccuracies and other external effects is very fundamental to the success of deploying autonomous vehicles.  


Petros Ioannou
Professor of Electrical Engineering Systems, Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering; USC Viterbi School of Engineering
3740 McClintock Avenue
Hughes Aircraft Electrical Engineering Center (EEB) 200BLos Angeles, CA 90089-2562
United States
[email protected]