AutonomouStuff, Center for Autonomy partner in use of autonomous vehicle Polaris GEM


Miranda Holloway

Researchers and students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Grainger College of Engineering have begun working on an autonomous software stack utilizing an AutonomouStuff Polaris GEM Automated Research Development Platform. The electric vehicle is on loan to the College as part of a long-term partnership intended to enable, accelerate and deploy the future of autonomy.

The Polaris GEM is a small, street legal autonomous vehicle that is ideal for testing and deploying algorithms for robotics applications, including vision processing, obstacle avoidance, object tracking and classification, localization, automated controls and map building. It is housed with the Center of Autonomy, but the GEM is available to researchers across the College.

"This partnership represents the core of our mission to enable, accelerate and deploy the future of autonomy," said Bobby Hambrick, founder and CEO of AutonomouStuff. "Research initiatives such as those at the Center for Autonomy will take autonomous mobility to the next level, improving the safety and efficiency of transportation for all."

Assistant Professor Katherine Driggs-Campbell of electrical and computer engineering is among the first researchers at the University to work with the GEM after the donation in Spring 2019. The initial efforts concentrate on autonomous software development.

"This summer, we have a few master’s students and undergraduate students working on getting the autonomous stack up and running smoothly," Driggs-Campbell said. "Our goal for the end of the summer is to get a nice demo of the GEM smoothly navigating campus scenarios, like following and overtaking a cyclist and effectively navigating crosswalks with pedestrians."

Other professors currently using the vehicle in their research include: Professor Geir Dellerud of mechanical science and engineering; Professor Minh Do of electrical and computer engineering; Professor Sayan Mitra of electrical and computer engineering; and Professor David Forsyth of computer science.

Mitra will be using the car in his Safety and Autonomy course in spring 2020. The first months with the GEM will be spent learning about current software modules and developing additional applications for autonomous and intelligent path following in the campus setting, including path and object detection; path planning and control; and real-time predictive safety analysis.

"We are still in the very early stages of software development and exploration," Mitra said. "Hopefully, by the end of the summer, the software we develop and the insights we gain will be beneficial for courses and forthcoming research projects."

Do's plans for the vehicle include the collection and synchronization of data with LiDAR, radar and vision to develop sensor fusion algorithms for automotive applications.

Forsyth plans to teach a class using GEM that will investigate problems including; vision based detection, multi-lane model detection, on road free-space detection, traffic light detection, camera based localization, traffic sign and speed limit recognition, surround view with object detection and classification, birds eye view 360 degrees around a vehicle, sensor fusion including camera objects, lidar objects and radar tracks.

About the Center for Autonomy
At the new Center for Autonomy, researchers are designing innovative systems that can function autonomously, or without human intervention, in a safe and reliable way. They focus on applications in agriculture, transportation, national defense, health care, and manufacturing. 
About AutonomouStuff 
AutonomouStuff provides the industry's most advanced organizations with the best products, software and engineering services to enable robotics and autonomy. The top priority for the team at AutonomouStuff is customer success. Customers value the convenience of finding the most cutting-edge modular-based automation software solutions, engineering services, perception, computing, GNSS+INS and interface components in one location. 
AutonomouStuff is part of Hexagon’s Positioning Intelligence division, which also includes NovAtel and Veripos.
Hexagon is a global leader in digital solutions that create Autonomous Connected Ecosystems (ACE). Hexagon (Nasdaq Stockholm: HEXA B) has approximately 19,000 employees in 50 countries and net sales of approximately 3.5bn EUR.