A growing part of Purdue University will play a key role in a nationwide joint research partnership. Discovery Park will lead the Innovation Hub for Connected and Autonomous Transportation Technologies, an initiative focused on expanding the research field of connected and autonomous vehicles. The partnership will be led by Darcy Bullock, professor of civil engineering and director of the Joint Transportation Research Program at Purdue.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Bullock said the collaboration will tie together several departments and areas of expertise throughout the campus. Previously, he said, there were many "little pockets" related to this type of technology throughout Purdue. Over the course of the last year, Bullock says Discovery Park Executive Director Tomás Díaz de la Rubia helped guide the collaborative process. "It’s going to be really critical that we look for the synergies at Purdue. We’re not going to solve all the problems, but we could start getting some of these pockets together," he added.

The university says Discovery Park will use the partnership to become a liaison to bridge all aspects of the evolving field by integrating, coordinating, and promoting connected and autonomous vehicle research among stakeholders from Purdue, the private sector, and public agencies such as the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Bullock says the Innovation Hub will feature multidisciplinary work in a variety of fields, including artificial intelligence, systems engineering, cybersecurity, machine learning, advanced sensing technology, human factors and public policy. Purdue says it will facilitate collaboration in such areas, with a focus on the potential for economic development.

"With over $550 billion in freight moving annually along Hoosier highways, we believe there are significant near-term opportunities for Purdue to partner with Indiana businesses and government agencies to establish a leadership position in the commercial vehicle sector of connected and autonomous vehicles," Bullock said.

The university cites a 2017 report by Intel which suggests connected and autonomous vehicle research could create $7 trillion in new economic opportunity by 2050. 

Joint Transportation Research Program Director Darcy Bullock says the collaboration will tie together several departments and areas of expertise throughout the campus.