UC San Diego Teams with Other Universities and Audi to Help Urban Drivers

New Audi-university partnership will explore how connected cars can solve urban mobility challenges

San Diego, January 20, 2011 -- A new research initiative launched by Audi, its Electronics Research Laboratory in Silicon Valley, the University of California, San Diego and three other major U.S. research universities will develop technologies aimed at easing the congestion, dangers and inconveniences that often confront drivers in the world's biggest cities.

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler after delivering his keynote speech to the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan.6, in which he outlined Audi's advanced driver assistance systems to improve safety and efficiency, including urban driving technologies on which it is working with researchers from UCSD, USC, UC Berkeley and University of Michigan.
The new three-year research initiative is called “Audi Urban Intelligent Assist.” The aim is to take connected car, driver assistance and infrastructure electronics to the next level of providing detailed information so motorists have a better sense of the driving conditions surrounding them. 

“Technologies that help motorists become more aware and efficient are a crucial step toward solving some of the biggest transportation challenges on the horizon across the world,” said Dr. Burkhard Huhnke, executive director of the Audi Electronics Research Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif. “Audi is confident that this initiative will provide an important insight on the future of urban transportation and produce innovative concepts that promote efficient, pleasant, and safer mobility.”

“Safety on urban roads will require a very deep understanding of the driver and his or her environment,” added UC San Diego electrical and computer engineering professor Mohan Trivedi, director of the university’s Laboratory for Intelligent and Safe Automobiles (LISA). “With the proliferation of consumer electronics devices in and on-board vehicles, a major challenge in front of us is to ensure that assistance systems really help rather than distract or irritate the driver."

Real-time camera systems deployed on LISA-P, a vehicle testbed based on the VW Passat, one of several experimental environments on which UCSD researchers have demonstrated computer-vision systems to monitor activity inside and outside the car.
In addition to UC San Diego, the universities involved in the Audi Urban Intelligent Assist initiative are the University of Southern California, University of California at Berkeley and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).

The Audi Urban Intelligent Assist project is the latest in a series of high-profile university collaborations that Audi has formed to explore the frontiers of automotive technologies and electronics. By working closely with the brightest electronics minds in the U.S., Audi and ERL are bringing to life the strategy expressed by AUDI AG Chairman Rupert Stadler in his Jan. 6 keynote address to the Consumer Electronics Show.

“Our plan is to integrate the best technologies from the best partners available and adapt these for the automotive world,” Stadler said. “And we intend to pick up the pace of innovation even further.”

Other Audi initiatives with ERL have explored advances in autonomous driving, emissions controls and monitoring, and dynamic navigation systems that connect to a driver’s life patterns and social circle. University partners in the previous research efforts have included Stanford, MIT and UC Riverside.

In previous work on human-centered driver assistance systems, UCSD researchers have developed motion-based surround detection sensors and algorithms to monitor activity around the car... and alert the driver to a potential hazard.
Urban Mobility Research

Cities in the United States and the world are growing at a rapid pace. In the U.S., urban population has exploded to about 85 percent of the country’s total. This translates into expanding but denser cities and megacities. Given the difficulties and high cost of updating the urban infrastructure, these factors pose a real mobility challenge today and for the future.

Increased road congestion, longer commute times and insufficient infrastructure to house the rapidly expanding vehicular pool, is making driving in megacities an increasingly stressful and dangerous task, which impacts the quality of life of every commuter.  

Audi is aware of these future mobility challenges, and of the opportunities that an increasingly connected world brings for the future. In order to advance the development of urban mobility, Audi together with ERL embraced the vision of a future involving connected intelligent vehicles that interact with their environment and with each other, to make urban mobility more efficient, more convenient, less stressful, and safer. 

After an open request for proposals to American universities, and a lengthy selection process, Audi signed an agreement with the four research universities, each with expertise to pursue the following:

About Audi
Audi of America, Inc. and its 272 U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands globally. During 2009 Audi outsold all other luxury brands in Europe, while in the U.S. market Audi posted the largest market share gain of any luxury automotive brand. Between 2010 and 2012 the Audi Group is planning to invest around €5.5 billion, mainly in new products, in order to sustain the Company’s technological lead. Visit or for more information regarding Audi vehicle and business issues.

About ERL
The Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Palo Alto, California, is a high-tech think-tank that has been developing new technologies for Audi cars and other brands within the Volkswagen Group since 1998. The ERL focuses on accelerating automotive innovation for future production vehicles. Positioned in the heart of Silicon Valley, the ERL works closely with many of the world's leading high-tech companies, start-ups, and universities. Information regarding the ERL can be found at

About LISA
The Laboratory for Intelligent, Safe Automobiles (LISA) at the University of California, San Diego is a multidisciplinary effort to explore innovative approaches to making future automobiles safer and more “intelligent”. This is accomplished by research in computer vision and intelligent systems with synergistic contributions from cognitive science, psychology and decision theory. LISA includes a broad theoretical as well as experimental research agenda, including testbed vehicles, real-time machine vision systems, multimodal interfaces and driving simulators.  

Related Links

Laboratory for Intelligent and Safe Automobiles
UCSD Computer Vision and Robotics Research Lab
Audi USA 
Audi News
Electronics Research Laboratory

Media Contacts

 Doug Ramsey, Calit2 UCSD, 858-822-5825, or Brad Stertz, Audi of America, 703-364-7440