SOUTHFIELD—Lawrence Technological University celebrated the gift of a second Gem e2 electric vehicle in an outdoor ceremony Tuesday at the university’s Southfield campus.
The university’s computer science program has turned the two-seat car into a second autonomous vehicle research platform for students to learn to develop software for the self-driving cars of the future.
Sponsors recognized included the United States Army’s DEVCOM Ground Vehicle Systems Center in Warren, the National Defense Industrial Association Michigan Chapter, the military business consultant Great Lakes Systems and Technology, the auto supplier DENSO, the Ann Arbor artificial intelligence technology developer SoarTech, the Ann Arbor simulation software developer Realtime Technologies, and the Rochester Hills drive-by-wire systems developer Dataspeed Inc.
LTU Provost Tarek Sobh, a robotics engineer by background, noted that Lawrence Tech is one of only 13 comprehensive, doctoral, private technological universities out of more than 6,000 institutions of higher learning in the country, “and that there is no project that embodies that unique nature like these vehicles.” LTU also offers one of the nation’s few fully accredited undergraduate robotics engineering programs, he added.
Lawrence Tech is also adding a new graduate program, a Master of Science in artificial intelligence, that has a concentration related to autonomous vehicle development.
C.J. Chung, professor of computer science at LTU, has long spearheaded the university’s push into developing autonomous vehicles. He said the next step for the program is to develop high school summer camps where talented younger students can learn to program autonomous vehicles using the computer language Python with ROS (Robot Operating System).
Lawrence Tech will be competing June 4-7 in the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, where it is three-time defending champion in developing autonomous driving capabilities. The competition is held at Oakland University in Rochester. It was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, but is being held this year with protective protocols in place.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers nearly 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.