Who Should Evaluate the Safety of Autonomous Vehicles? Why Not Colleges?

can be reached at marcusamick@aol.com
can be reached at marcusamick@aol.com
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It’s clear that major tech companies and automakers aren’t the only ones that see an opportunity in the rapidly growing world of autonomous vehicles. The University at Buffalo (UB) is also vying to position itself in the space, but in a unique way.

  • UB recently unveiled its second autonomous vehicle as part of its ongoing research efforts, a converted Lincoln MKZ.
  • The university’s self-driving vehicle research is focused on finding ways to create a more standardized safety evaluation and certification process for autonomous vehicles.
  • The autonomous vehicle research is a multidisciplinary program led by the college’s Computer Science and Engineering Department.

University of Buffalo Autonomous Vehicle research
The University at Buffalo AV research initiative involves both real-world and simulated testing. (Photo: UB)

Unlike some autonomous vehicle development programs, the University at Buffalo’s tech initiative is primarily focused on exploring ways to create a more standardized evaluation and certification process for autonomous vehicles. UB’s research efforts also include the development of a virtual reality platform that combines real-world testing with simulated scenarios on the road.

“By leading the field of research on autonomous vehicles, our faculty are working toward a more sustainable and safer future for the many communities we serve,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi.

Chunming Qiao, chair of UB’s Computer Science and Engineering Department, says UB can help fill a niche that exist between the major tech companies and automakers when it comes to the development of autonomous vehicles, as a more neutral party. UB’s program has computer scientists, transportation engineers, and other faculty – including the dean of its law school, who is leading the New York State Bar Association’s task force on autonomous vehicles – working together to address not just technology but public policy, as well.


Most of the development efforts in the world of autonomous vehicles seem to be focused on the major hardware and software components that will drive the future of the technology. But the less-talked about research being done by instituations like the University of Buffalo could prove to be just as valuable in bringing this technology to market, if not more.

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can be reached at marcusamick@aol.com
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