UB to Unveil Newest Autonomous Vehicle

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The University at Buffalo’s newest autonomous vehicle will be unveiled on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 10 a.m. in front of Barbara and Jack Davis Hall on the North Campus.

Made possible through generous donations from Monro Muffler Brake, Inc., and West Herr Auto Group, the customized Lincoln MKZ will help boost the university’s research enterprise in connected and autonomous vehicles.

“With our strong interdisciplinary programs and industry partnerships, most notably the Stephen Still Institute for Sustainable Transportation and Logistics and our transportation informatics center, UB is a leader in transportation research and education,” said Rajan Batta, interim dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “These partnerships enable us to improve transportation safety, create smarter traffic systems, harness the power of big data to address transportation challenges and develop safer, more sustainable vehicles.”

The event begins with brief remarks and a short presentation about UB’s research efforts, followed by a question-and-answer session with Batta and Chunming Qiao, SUNY Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Guests will be invited to sit in the car after the remarks.

“This vehicle has enabled us to gain insights into the development of autonomous vehicles for deployment here at UB and in the real world,” said Qiao. “Such insights are valuable when it comes to training our students and conducting cutting-edge research on the testing, evaluation  and certification of the safety of autonomous vehicles for future transportation systems.”

UB has received a number of grants and private funding to conduct transportation research, and this latest support from Monro and West Herr was instrumental to the purchase and customization of this new vehicle.

“We are pleased to support the University at Buffalo’s research and development of the next generation of vehicles, especially since so many of our teammates are UB graduates,” said Deborah Brundage, Monro’s chief marketing officer. “Seeing the work of UB’s faculty and students, it’s easy to see why New York State is a hub for driverless technology. Monro is committed to being a leader in this new field to better serve our guests and keep them safe on the road.”

President and CEO of West Herr Auto Group Scott Bieler said: “The University at Buffalo is an important and valuable resource to the students and community of Western New York. West Herr is honored to be a part of such an innovative program like this one.”

In addition to UB’s extensive cross-disciplinary research enterprise on transportation, this newest member of autonomous vehicle fleet is the latest effort to promote new transportation options. The Olli bus, a self-driving electric shuttle bus was introduced on campus in 2018; an autonomous Cadillac SUV was tested in 2017; and in 2016, the Southwest Research Institute demonstrated a self-driving vehicle meant to improve safety at roadside construction projects.

The contributions from Monro and West Herr that enabled the university to acquire this research tool were part of UB’s Boldly Buffalo campaign, which will raise $650 million in commitments to transform students, empower faculty teaching and research, and improve communities in Western New York and around the world.



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