June 1, 2020

todd humphreys plansx research group photoA team of Cockrell School of Engineering researchers led by Todd Humphreys, an associate professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics (ASE/EM), has been awarded the Walter R. Fried Memorial Award for best overall paper at the 2020 IEEE/ION PLANSx conference.

Lakshay Narula, a graduate student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is the lead author of the winning paper titled, “Automotive-Radar-Based 50-cm Urban Positioning.” Humphreys, who serves as Narula’s graduate faculty advisor, is a co-author of the paper along with Peter A. Iannucci, a postdoctoral fellow in the ASE/EM Department.

The paper shows how self-driving cars can use commercially-available low-cost automotive radars to achieve robust 50-cm-accurate ground positioning for navigation in urban areas when the visibility is poor, for example, during a snowy whiteout. The developed novel technique provides the optimal solution, despite the significant challenges posed by low-cost sensor characteristics and the urban radar environment.

The team evaluated the technique’s performance using a realistic urban data set and concluded that, when coupled with dead reckoning (calculating current position using a previously determined position) to estimate the vehicle’s change in position over time, it maintains 95 percentile errors below 50 cm horizontally, and 1 degree in heading (the compass position in which the vehicle’s nose is pointed).

The winning paper was selected from approximately 250 submissions for this year’s Walter R. Fried Award, which was established in 2000 to recognize individuals who have made a significant contribution to the technology of navigation and positioning equipment, systems or practices.

Narula conducted the research featured in the paper at The University of Texas at Austin Radionavigation Laboratory, which is directed by Humphreys.