New NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates project led by Dr. Sandip Ray to focus on cybersecurity for vehicles

University of Florida’s College of Engineering will soon be hosting a new REU site, thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF.) REU stands for Research Experiences for Undergraduates and is a unique opportunity for small cohorts of talented undergraduate students to engage in high-impact research.

The focus of the site is “Secure, Accessible and Sustainable Transportation Research” and the research will occur over summer 2023. Dr. Sandip Ray (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) and five other professors will be supervising the project (Dr. Swarup Bunhia and Dr. Janise McNair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Dr. Lili Du and Dr. Siva Srinivasan, Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering; Dr. Wanli Xing, College of Education.  Warren B. Nelms Institute for Connected World will be collaborating on the project. The Warren B. Nelms Institute for Connected World also will participate in the REU.

According to the REU website, “Recent years are seeing a transformative and rapid push towards autonomy in the transportation systems, driven by explosive infusion of electronics, sensors, and software. Autonomous transportation holds out the promise of dramatically improving transportation system by reducing and eventually eliminating human errors and inefficiencies. However, it has resulted in new and challenging research questions on effective use of autonomy to achieve security, accessibility, and sustainability.”

“It is a great opportunity for undergraduate students to get involved in cutting-edge research in an inter-disciplinary setting to address some of the current challenges faced in transportation,” said Dr. Srinivasan.

More specifically, making vehicles secure from cyber-attacks; minimizing environmental impacts; and enabling people with disabilities to use this form of transportation are just some of the topics the students will seek novel solutions for, according to Dr. Ray.

The need for this research has become evident as autonomous transportation quickly moves from the realm of imagination and onto our streets, however human errors and inefficiencies have also become evident and thus the need for ways to mitigate them. Without addressing these security, accessibility and sustainability issues, the viability and adoption of autonomous transportation systems could be at risk.

“Today’s key bottleneck in the transportation industry is workforce, which will be directly addressed in this project.  Additionally, the solutions that will come up will have critical societal impact and facilitate adoption of autonomous transportation,” Dr. Ray said.

By the end of the summer, the anticipated outcome is to address the need for developing a workforce that understands some of the main challenges of this technology and to motivate the young student researchers to focus their careers addressing these challenges.

Students interested in applying for this opportunity can find out more information here.

Ada Lang
Communications Specialist
UF Transportation Institute