FAU networking research to improve road safety

Lore Khazem

Professor Imad Mahgoub. Photo courtesy of Media Relations.

The future of driving is being shaped by an FAU professor.

Imad Mahgoub, a computer science professor from the university’s department of computer and electrical engineering, received a $330,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) — the main funding source for scientific research conducted by American colleges and universities — on Oct. 12. FAU matched the NSF grant with $142,000, for Mahgoub to develop a network that will make driving safer, traffic bearable and cars able to communicate with one another.

The goal of Mahgoub’s study is to improve roadway safety and traffic flow with the hardware and software tools needed to develop a vehicular ad hoc networking testbed on FAU’s Boca campus. In a vehicular ad hoc network, also known as a V.A.N.E.T., vehicles talk to each other wirelessly and they can also talk to roadside units and infrastructure.

This communication between cars enables a vehicle to get warnings of threats that their vehicle is in, like a traffic accident a mile away, to take preemptive actions to avoid being in traffic.

“It would help a lot of people, especially traffic and getting away from more accidents” Tami Nguyen, a junior anesthesiology major, said.

“Similar technology have been used in [Google cars]. Talking about safety, those cars have really traveled on California highways, on regular highways, millions of miles, without a single incident,” College of Engineering and Computer Science Interim Dean Mohammad Ilyas said.

Distracted drivers and pedestrians can be found all over the FAU Boca campus. Professor Imad Mahgoub is looking to make the roads a safer place. Photo by Jordanne Pitter

Mahgoub will be involving students by implementing research and projects in courses related to this study. Courses already being taught in this area include V.A.N.E.T., mobile computing, wireless networking and traffic signal systems and intelligent transportation system classes.

“This project is about the students,” Mahgoub said. “There is a fund to support PhD. students to work on it. We have courses that are going to benefit from this project of the students who are taking the classes.”

Aleksandar Stevanovic, an assistant professor of civil engineering, is the co-principal investigator of this study. Stevanovic is one of the people responsible for the scientific conduct of this project.

“Students will get the opportunity to learn,” Stevanovic said. “How some of this cutting edge technology works and what kind of impact will that have on their daily acts.”

Some students can’t wait for this cutting edge technology to impact their lives.

“I would love my car to tell me, ‘Hey, accident ahead.’ ‘Alright cool, let’s get off’” James Eugene, a freshman mechanical engineering major, said.