A University of Texas at Arlington computer scientist is designing a reservation/reminder software system as part of a project that will eventually lead to veterans on military bases being driven to doctor appointments via driverless cars.
Manfred Huber, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is principal investigator on the $100,000 project with Robotic Research LLC, which is leading the entire driverless vehicle project. Initially, this Applied Robotics for Installation And Base Operations, ARIBO, project prototype will be installed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
"We're designing the system to be accessible through an android cell phone app or kiosk at a stop along the route," Huber said. "This system will help veterans who might be suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It will hopefully get the veterans where they need to be when they need to be there."
Huber said the system also could be set up to send text reminders about upcoming appointments for the veterans.
Work will be done at the Huber's lab in the Engineering Research Building at the College of Engineering and the UT Arlington Research Institute.
Mike McNair, UT Arlington Research Institute Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Division lead, said UTARI is part of the public/private partnership called Team ARIBO.
"It's exciting to be on the breaking ground of this project," McNair said. "This project fits in with the robotics specialty that UTARI has. Dr. Huber's front-end system is important to the overall success of driverless cars."
The research institute developed and completed the start of the ARIBO Program Roadmap under contract to the U.S. Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center or TARDEC. This Roadmap provides the overall research approach for the ARIBO program. Huber's part is one of several prototype efforts under the ARIBO program umbrella.
Huber said working in a controlled environment like an Army base is ideal in building a driverless transportation system because there are fewer variables.
"Driverless systems are here. It's just that integrating it into the common, everyday street system will be difficult," Huber said. "A driverless car can see a ball bouncing into the street but doesn't yet have the insight to know that a child might be chasing the ball."
Huber said another part of the project would allow his system to survey the veterans who use the system. He said that information and feedback could be used to improve the performance of the reservation system.
Huber said the reservation system portion is based on an earlier project Computer Science and Engineering did with the School of Social Work. That National Institutes of Health grant helped Tarrant County mental health patients keep up with their appointments through an interactive website.
ARIBO is part of an even larger initiative called the SmartAmerica Challenge, which is a White House initiative. The goal is to bring together research in different sectors, such as smart manufacturing, healthcare, smart energy, intelligent transportation and disaster response.
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