The promise of autonomous vehicles is irresistible. Imagine fleets of self-driving cars seamlessly dispatching themselves from point to point; drones whisking deliveries to your door; and tractors plowing, planting and harvesting fields by themselves.
Technology and transportation companies insist that these futuristic scenarios will soon be commonplace. Yet between that hype and reality, problems remain that need to be solved before robots can be set loose to navigate our world. At the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, Assistant Professor Nicola Bezzo leads a team of researchers building autonomous systems with the capacity to overcome some of those problems—and to put computers permanently in the driver’s seat.