Will traffic lights exist? Will cars still have human drivers? These are some of the questions that Dr. Vijay Kumar will be addressing at the Centurion Monthly Task Force Meeting on Oct. 8. According to Dr. Kumar, “The idea of a driverless car is very exciting and such cars may come in about 15 to 20 years. More interesting is to provide a driverless option while keeping intact the fun of driving. Our love of cars does not want to lose the fun of driving. One of the main objectives is to improve traffic flow inside the city and do away with traffic lights to prepare the platform for driverless cars.” One of his current research projects uses sensors to automate traffic at intersections.
Dr. Kumar, Professor in the Computer Science Electrical Engineering Department at UMKC, proposed a new approach to sensor technology at an Air Force workshop in St. Louis. While at the workshop, the Air Force Research Lab in Rome, N.Y. took great interest and funded Dr. Kumar’s research project. Since then, he and his graduate assistant, Amol Khedkar, have explored the deployment of this technology. Their research is based around what he refers to as the “Self-Synchronization of Mobile Objects.” Kumar’s technology would communicate with surrounding vehicles and instruct the vehicles when to stop and when to go, without the interference of human drivers. For this technology to be effective, all the cars on the road must be equipped with this system. Kumar also suggests integration of an override system so that it can be switched off. Further advancement of the technology could begin regulating the speed of vehicles on the road, avoiding collision and eliminating wait time. Dr. Kumar and Khedkar’s research was recently featured in the U-News article, “Say ‘goodbye’ to traffic lights with driverless cars.”
The Centurions October Task Force meeting will focus on what Kansas City will look like in 20 years. The meeting will cover several different areas, including economic, demographic, environment and architecture planning, biotechnology, and Dr. Kumar’s presentation on driverless cars. The task force will explore critical measures and initiatives needed to continue growth and development in Kansas City.
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