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Consortium funds research into cybersecurity of autonomous vehicles

Mitra Mirhassani and Huapeng Wu

Two UWindsor professors have received $383,000 in funding to research how to ensure the cybersecurity of autonomous vehicles.

The research money for Mitra Mirhassani and Huapeng Wu was announced Thursday at the Entrepreneurship Practice and Innovation Centre as part of a $1.1 million funding announcement for the National Academic Cluster for Smart Vehicles through the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC).

Drs. Mirhassani and Wu will investigate how to ensure technology used in autonomous vehicles and transit systems doesn’t include Trojan hardware.

“We have to make sure they are safe, secure, and can’t be tampered with,” said Mirhassani. “If any loophole exists, there goes your security.”

Mirhassani said CUTRIC has been very supportive of her lab’s work. CUTRIC will provide $193,000 of the funding, with an additional $190,000 coming from Mitacs, a non-profit national research organization that brings together academics, private industry and government.

CUTRIC develops technology that advances next-generation mobility and transportation, including electric and hydrogen-powered buses and autonomous smart vehicles.

“Windsor is the best city to launch this initiative,” said Josipa Petrunic, CUTRIC’s executive director and CEO.

“It really is a hub for where the future of mobility will be.”

Heather Pratt, UWindsor executive director of research and innovation, said the University and this region, with its automotive history, has the background and expertise to play a role in development of new technologies.

“We are at an exciting moment in the development of autonomous, electrified and connected vehicles and transportation systems,” Pratt said.

“We are proud to be collaborating with CUTRIC in the development of these exciting innovations which will not only change the way the world looks at its urban transportation vehicles but will support the creation of new jobs and tech investment for our region.”

UWindsor vice-president of research and innovation K.W. Michael Siu said the collaboration with CUTRIC is in keeping with the University’s commitment to fostering sustainable industry and building viable, healthy, and safe communities in our region, in Canada, and beyond.

“Not only will the generous funding contribute to significant advancements in autonomous and connected vehicle knowledge and technological innovation, but it will facilitate training of next-generation researchers, engineers, industry leaders, and decision-makers in smart vehicle science,” Dr. Siu said.

UWindsor is one of eight universities partnering with CUTRIC. Other partners include Transit Windsor and its counterparts in four other cities, the Canadian Urban Transit Association, non-profits, and private industry.

—Sarah Sacheli