UFTI Attends the 4th Annual Florida Automated Vehicles Summit

Faculty and students from the UFTI attended the 4th Annual Florida Automated Vehicles Summit in Tampa, Fla., which was held November 29-30, 2016.  The UFTI has been regularly attending the Summit because the Institute has various projects related to automated and connected vehicles (AVs).

“The Florida DOT has been doing an impressive job assembling key industry, government, and academia partners to discuss autonomous and connected vehicles,”said Lily Elefteriadou, professor and Director of the UFTI. “The conference keeps growing every year, and it is a great learning and networking opportunity for our faculty and students.”

With Florida as one of five states in the nation allowing the testing of automated vehicles on its roads, the state has been hosting this summit for the past four years to prepare for the eventual implementation and deployment of autonomous and connected vehicle technologies.

Senator Jeff Brandes, a State of Florida senator from St. Petersburg, was also at the AV Summit. His office sponsored student registrations to the event. Senator Brandes has been leading the effort to prepare Florida’s transportation system for AVs, and in 2012 sponsored legislation to facilitate the testing and operation of automated vehicles in Florida. The Senator’s financial support for students enabled several graduate students from the UFTI to attend. These students experienced first-hand how policy makers interact with the transportation industry for the eventual implementation of a new technology.

Aschkan Omidvar, a doctoral student working under the guidance of Elefteriadou, attended the Summit and said the experience was unlike any of the usual research conferences he usually attends; it helped him understand the interactions between research and policy.

“FAV was very different from most of the conferences I’ve attended so far,” he said. “It was less of research and more of application and managerial level discussions, since the attendees were mostly senators, lobbyists, FDOT principals, industry and business directors and policy-makers, in general.”

Omidvar is currently working on a V21 communication component for both connected and autonomous vehicles.  For him, attending the conference was beneficial because he had the opportunity to interact with directors of various companies represented at the AV Summit.

“The people standing at the booths were the high-ranked directors of the companies, and I had a chance to meet them and discuss the obstacles I am currently facing, as well as potential further collaborations,” Omidvar said.

Although there were students from other universities at this event, Omidvar said that UFTI had the largest group of students represented at the event.