Carnegie Mellon University Expects GM Automotive Research to Continue

By Napsha, Joe | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 6, 2009 | Go to article overview

Carnegie Mellon University Expects GM Automotive Research to Continue


Napsha, Joe, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


General Motors Corp. teeters on the edge of bankruptcy, but it remains committed to Carnegie Mellon University research to incorporate more computers and electronics into its cars of the future, the program's director said Tuesday.

"GM is extremely supportive of what we are doing. This is a good way of GM tapping into high-tech research" without having on its payroll researchers working on innovations for vehicles of tomorrow, said Raj Rajkumar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and co-director of the GM-CMU Collaborative Research Lab.

At CMU's Oakland campus, GM operates two collaborative research laboratories -- vehicular information technologies and autonomous driving -- that the automaker is continuing to support financially, Rajkumar said.

GM signed a contract in 2008 to provide $6 million over six years for the vehicular information lab, which is working to integrate more electronics to produce a more reliable and safe car.

Last June, GM also signed a contract to provide $5 million over five years to develop the autonomous driving vehicle, which are cars equipped with elaborate computers and sensors that can drive themselves, on the command of the driver.

"If the economy was doing well, GM would be providing even more (financial) support," Rajkumar said, noting that CMU is working on research projects that will pay off in the future.

If GM files for bankruptcy and its commitment to CMU is reduced, Rajkumar is confident work would continue because the research has support of both the state and federal governments.

"We could transform the region into a powerhouse for autonomous technology" that could be used in hospital settings, as well as in the households, Rajkumar said -- offering as an example an "autonomous maid" that would clean house. …

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