Dr. Renran Tian, assistant professor of computer information and graphics technology in the School of Engineering and Technology, IUPUI, has received a 5-year Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his work on how autonomous vehicles could use artificial intelligence to learn to anticipate the intention and movement of pedestrians, and thus make roads safer for all. The CAREER Award is the NSF's most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to become leaders in research and education.
With the fast progress of artificial intelligence, vehicles with high levels of automation are being driven on our streets. However, existing autonomous vehicles still face fundamental challenges in recognizing the quickly changing intentions of pedestrians, making it hard to predict their behavior and plan the vehicle's course of movement. Such limitations impede the implementation of fully autonomous and safe cars in urban settings and create additional risks for pedestrians and other road users.
Dr. Tian works in IUPUI's Transportation & Autonomous Systems Institute (TASI), applying his expertise in human-centered computing, cognitive ergonomics, computational behavior analysis, human-AI interaction, and autonomous driving. "We will develop novel techniques to model and predict pedestrians' intentions by considering the human driver's perspective and thinking process," said Dr. Tian. "By learning the thinking process of drivers and their driving responses, our algorithms will train automated cars to interact with pedestrians and other road users smoothly and safely while explaining its automatic reasoning process." The project also includes activities to promote user-centered design in engineering education, foster the awareness of biases and ethical issues related to artificial intelligence technologies, and increase the participation of underrepresented communities in STEM.
"Dr. Tian's CAREER Award is a wonderful example of the individual recognition and success our junior faculty can achieve by being an integral part of a world-class research center anchored in our School, such as TASI ..." said Dr. Russomanno, dean of the School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI. "Dr. Tian rapidly aligned his research expertise with the opportunities provided by TASI to become one of our leading faculty members with research in AI focused on mobility."
Dr. Yaobin Chen (director of TASI) commented on Tian's achievements by saying, "Dr. Tian's unique expertise in human-centered computing and human factors engineering has a significant impact on TASI's research in autonomous driving and vulnerable road user safety. This new NSF CAREER award will provide him with much-needed support and prestige to take his research to the next level of excellence recognized nationally and internationally in the field."
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