Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) will house a new $18 million center and research partnership with the U.S. Army that will focus on the technology behind self-driving vehicles through prototyping.
The new facility, the Virtual Prototyping of Ground Systems (VIPR-GS) Center, will lead the research project. Founding director Zoran Filipi will oversee more than 65 Clemson employees at the center who will work across seven engineering departments, according to a release from the university. Those faculty members will create virtual prototyping tools to aid in transforming U.S. fleets of ground vehicles. The research will include digital engineering, next-generation propulsion and energy systems, and manned and unmanned teaming in unknown off-road environments.
“For the last decade, we have diligently strengthened and expanded our capabilities to become the nationally recognized institution we are today,” said Filipi, who is also chair of the Department of Automotive Engineering. “From our skilled autonomous vehicle research team to our unmatched expertise in advanced propulsion and systems engineering DNA, this is exactly the type of high-impact, multidisciplinary, ambitious research challenge we were built for.”
“Autonomous systems and connected vehicles are some of the most significant factors shaping the mobility industry today, and the work being done in off-road autonomy is truly the next frontier. CU-ICAR was designed to foster research and partnerships to benefit our future. Through our deep research strengths and interdisciplinary culture, Clemson is uniquely positioned to lead the way in this important work,” said Clemson’s president, Jim Clements.
Researchers at VIPR-GS will build virtual models for off-road vehicles featuring advanced electrified propulsion, situational intelligence, AI-enabled autonomy and team-routing algorithms.
The new center will also develop demonstrations and future roadmaps to aid in creating these next-generation combat vehicles, which is one of the Army’s big six modernization priorities.
“This award is a testament to the transformative, world-class research we are pursuing at CU-ICAR in the broader area of transportation,” said Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences. “Under the leadership of Dr. Filipi, we have assembled the world’s brightest engineers and scientists to work on solving some of the most compelling multidisciplinary problems in autonomous systems and connected vehicles.”
Beyond just providing the Army with the development of the combat self-driving vehicles, the center will provide economic growth thanks to its focus on developing high-impact tech, according to Clemson officials.
Clemson’s vice president for research, Tanju Karanfil, said, “This center aligns greatly with Clemson’s growing research strengths and expertise, as well as our robust workforce development efforts and industry collaborations that fuel innovation and economic growth. This is sure to be a win for Clemson faculty and students, the U.S. Army and the state of South Carolina.”
The United States Department of Defense provided funding for VIPR-GS.