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WPI Launches Autonomous Vehicle Mobility Institute

Faculty members Vladimir Vantsevich and Lee Moradi have established an Autonomous Vehicle Mobility Institute (AVMI) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute that is expanding the university’s interdisciplinary research into autonomous vehicle technologies and boosting educational opportunities for students. Professor Vantsevich and Professor Moradi are both in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. 

Vantsevich and Moradi said they are building on their extensive experience managing multimillion dollar autonomous vehicle research projects and on WPI’s existing research to position the university as a major contributor to the fields of autonomous vehicles for land, sea, air, and space, said WPI interim president Wole Soboyejo. “A significant portion of vehicles on and off roads are expected to be autonomous in the coming decades,” Soboyejo said. “WPI researchers across departments are already doing groundbreaking work in this field, and Vladimir and Lee will allow WPI to transform the scale of our innovations with their expertise and their ability to bring together collaborators with complementary expertise. This will lead to several new opportunities for our students and prepare them for leadership positions in a field that will define the cutting edge of transportation and space exploration.”

“Much of the current research into autonomous vehicles focuses on cars that travel on roads, but we focus on off-road vehicles, from small robotic vehicles to full-scale vehicles, both manned and unmanned, with as many as 8, 12, or 16 wheels that are driven by electric motors or mechanical drivetrain systems with controls,” said Vantsevich. “The technological challenge for these off-road vehicles is making them intelligent enough to sense and understand the terrain under the wheel to supply in real time the correct amount of power to each wheel and thus improve the vehicle’s terrain mobility, maneuverability, and energy efficiency. We believe that WPI is an excellent place to engage students, other faculty members, and industry partners in this work.”

Vantsevich and Moradi previously worked together as members of the faculty at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) for a decade before joining the WPI faculty in early 2022. They co-direct AVMI, which focuses on technology for off-road autonomous vehicles that travel across rough terrain—everything from farmland to battlefields to other planets. Their work has been funded by the U.S. Army, NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and industry partners in the United States and Western Europe.

For more information about WPI’s Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering department, click here.

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