Electric test vehicle drives in ISU Homecoming Parade

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October 24, 2017
Pranamesh Chakraborty, an InTrans graduate student, drives the vehicle.
Pranamesh Chakraborty, an InTrans graduate student, drives the electric vehicle on the parade route.

An electric vehicle used for research and study by Iowa State University faculty and students was part of the ISU Homecoming Parade in downtown Ames on October 22.

Pranamesh Chakraborty, a graduate student at ISU’s Institute for Transportation (InTrans), drove the vehicle on the parade route from the driver’s seat. Someday, the vehicle may not have a driver. In test situations, people in the right front seat have driven the vehicle “by wire” using a joystick to steer and control the vehicle.

The four-seat Polaris Gem is one of two electric vehicles used to study the systems required for future driverless vehicles. The project is a part of the cross-disciplinary effort at ISU called Human Compassionate Autonomy. It is led by Anuj Sharma, associate professor in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (CCEE) and an InTrans researcher, and Soumik Sarkar, assistant professor in mechanical engineering. Vishal Mahulkar, CCEE post-doctoral researcher, is managing the deployment of first applications.

The team is supported by several student groups on campus including IMPACT (Innovators Making Positive Advances in Creative Technologies), technical communication students, and senior design students from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“This is an internally supported effort to jump start the research and education in human compassionate autonomy on campus,” Sharma said.

Other faculty contributing to the project include Peter Savolainen, Omar Smadi and Shauna Hallmark from CCEE and InTrans, Adarsh Krishnamurthy from mechanical engineering, and Chinmay Hegde from electrical and computer engineering.

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