For researchers in Auburn University’s GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory, prepping autonomous vehicles outside in Alabama’s elements—from the sweltering summer sun to pop-up thunderstorms—has become a near daily occurrence.
Whether researchers are debugging algorithms, installing sensors or running data analyses, much of the work from the GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory, or GAVLAB, is done outdoors and subject to Mother Nature’s whims.
That is about to change with the planned addition of a sophisticated new autonomous vehicle research facility at Auburn’s National Center for Asphalt Technology test track. The facility is expected to provide a garage with multiple bays and lifts for commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, office space for researchers, a conference room and an observation area overlooking NCAT’s 1.7-mile oval test track.
The $800,000 building will be one of the few autonomous research facilities in the nation attached to a test track.
“The fact that we’ll have our own test track where we can run autonomous vehicles and autonomous testing attached to this facility I think will be an unbelievably unique asset,” said David Bevly, the Bill and Lana McNair Distinguished Professor of mechanical engineering and co-director of the GAVLAB, along with assistant research professor Scott Martin.
With various sponsors visiting each month, the facility’s planned observation area will give the GAVLAB team a high-quality space to demonstrate its research.