News Release

Driving towards safety: ERC funds autonomous vehicle project

Grant and Award Announcement

Koc University

Dr. Fatma Güney

image: Dr. Fatma Güney, Koç University, 2023 view more 

Credit: Koç University, 2023

Due to the complexity of real-world situations, we still do not have self-driving vehicles largely deployed on the roads today. For safe navigation, the self-driving vehicle needs to be able to anticipate the consequences of its actions. However, existing solutions are reactive in nature and lack planning for possible future scenarios. This causes major safety concerns for self-driving and prevents its deployment in large-scale.

The research of Dr. Fatma Güney at Koç University focuses on enhancing the decision-making process of self-driving vehicles with multiple future predictions. Her project titled "ENSURE: ENabling Self-Driving in Uncertain Real Environments", was recently recognized by the European Research Council (ERC) with a Starting Grant worth 1.5 million euros. The 5-year project prioritizes safety and explainability of self-driving technology to increase its applicability in real world with state of the art deep learning techniques. 

ENSURE was one of the 400 projects selected from among 2,696 applications this year. In ENSURE, the goal is to understand the dynamics of driving with different types of uncertainty to achieve safe self-driving in complex real world situations. These include uncertainties due to unknown intentions of other agents such as negotiation scenarios at intersections as well as uncertainties due to modelling errors, for example failing to predict future correctly due to an unknown object on the road. 

ENSURE aims to anticipate uncertain scenarios that autonomous vehicle may encounter in future and take it into account while taking an action. This innovation addresses a critical deficiency in the field, improving the reliability and explainability of this technology.

Scheduled to span five years, the project will be carried out by Dr. Güney and her team at Koç University & İş Bankası Artificial Intelligence Application and Research Center (KUIS AI Center). It holds significant potential for the future of autonomous vehicles, benefiting various areas such as accessibility, fuel efficiency, time-saving, and ecology.

Koç University, a research university based in Istanbul, focuses on pushing the boundaries of science. Among the 49 ERC grants awarded to Türkiye, 27 are conducted by its faculty members.

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