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SwRI signs international autonomous vehicle collaborative agreement

San Antonio -- September 13, 2007 -- Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) is joining forces with The Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique (INRIA) of France to advance autonomous vehicle technologies, focusing on the areas of perception, intelligence, command and control, communications, platforms and safety.

On Sept. 5, 2007, SwRI, one of the oldest and largest nonprofit applied research and development organizations in the U.S., signed an international collaboration agreement with INRIA, a French national institute that conducts fundamental and applied research in information and communication science and technology. The partnership will conduct joint research and exchange intellectual property to foster rapid technology and system advancements in vehicle autonomy.

"We believe that the vehicle autonomy field is entering a rapid growth phase, as evidenced by recent advances associated with defense science programs such as the DARPA Grand Challenge and the European Commission PReVENT programs, as well as automotive industry advances in active safety devices," said Dr. Steven W. Dellenback, director of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Department at SwRI. "An additional push in autonomous vehicle research comes from U.S. Department of Defense and congressional directives that one-third of all ground combat vehicles be autonomous by 2015."

In 2006, SwRI established a $5 million internal research and development program, called the Southwest Safe Transport Initiative (SSTI), to improve safety in urban traffic environments. SSTI is charged with developing new sensor, computing and mobile technologies to augment vehicle platforms and provide autonomous vehicle capabilities. Through SSTI, the Institute is fusing the latest technology from multiple industries to meet the challenges associated with autonomous control of cars, trucks, tractors and military vehicles.

SwRI is applying its multidisciplinary technical expertise to create a full-scale autonomous ground vehicle platform for advanced engineering applications development. The SSTI program is benefiting from SwRI's broad technical expertise in areas including unmanned aerial systems, intelligent transportation and vehicle systems, cooperative vehicle systems, cognitive and multi-agent systems, engineering dynamics, advanced vehicle research, hardware/software-in-the-loop simulation, machine vision, large-scale multi-function robotics and safety and reliability systems.

Operated under the dual authority of the French Ministry of Research and the Ministry of Industry, INRIA plays a major role in technology transfer, training, research and development, and scientific and technical information dissemination. Within INRIA, the IMARA team specializes in applying information and communication technologies in the Intelligent Transportation Systems field. Since the 1990s, this team has researched and demonstrated fully automated vehicles and drivers' assistance systems. The IMARA team, along with other INRIA teams specializing in robotics, communications, and real-time software, participate in international programs, including a variety of European research programs such as CyberCar, PReVENT, CVIS and REACT. Its leader, Michel Parent, is known as the father of the "cybercar" concept (see www.cybercars.org).

For more information about SwRI, see www.swri.org; for more information about the Institute's intelligent transportation program, see www.its.swri.org. For more information about INRIA, see http://www.inria.fr; for more information about IMARA, see www.lara.prd.fr.

For more information contact Deb Schmid at (210) 522-2254, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510.

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