Texas A&M University Institute of Advanced Studies

Yuntao Zhang

Yuntao Zhang

In the last 7 months working with Faculty Fellow Dr. Hedrick and Dr. Rathinam, I have done staged research about safety of unmanned vehicles. After being guided in this area by Dr. Rathinam, the fellowship supports me to focus on the specific problem which is about the safety analysis of the control law designed for a car platoon. The autonomous car is a newly developing industry in the world. TAMU is trying to build up an institutional research team which pursues leading achievements of the unmanned vehicle. The Hagler Institute HEEP fellowship has offered me a good chance to work with Dr. Hedrick, one of the most remarkable scholars in this area. Hosted by Dr. Hedrick, the related researchers are connected, introduced, and their research and ideas are also shared. It is very important to a new researcher since it gave me an overall view, linking my project to the practical problem which industries care about.

My research focuses on the safety of automated vehicle platoon. In the whole industry, the standard of safety measurement is still unclear. The scenario is described as a group of automated cars traveling on a straight road, following one by one with a constant space in between and keeping the same speed. Then the leading vehicle brakes in its maximum deceleration until stop. Of course, in order to avoid collision, the following cars should also brake. The control law has been designed to arrange the deceleration through time automatically, which concerns a lot of factors. However, the ability to decelerate differs in each car. Once a car cannot brake as quickly as its previous one, violation occurs, and the system becomes less safe because violation may lead to collision. We are interested in finding a way to calculate the probability of violation in different conditions, thus we can measure the safety level. However, since the differential equations are complex, more advanced mathematical methods are needed.

In the past half year I have been advised by Dr. Rathinam and read the papers written by Dr. Sivaroop, who makes a foundation on the control law for automated vehicle platoon. In order to go forward, I also took the literature review on a wide range of safety and looked for advanced mathematical method to define the safety level and calculate how possible it is to be unsafe. Then I derived the equations further and developed the MATLAB code basing on those theories to do the situations with different parameters. In the next stage, we plan to try some new math models to calculate the probabilities of collision and violation. Then the above work will be presented in July 28. Thanks very much. 


Mechanical Engineering

Graduation Year

December 2021

Degree Type


Fellowship Year(s)

'15 - '16

Previous Education

M.S. in Mechanical Engineering - University of Southern California - '15
B.S. in Mechanical Design, Manufacturing, and Automation - Harbin Institute of Technology - '12


A. Polycarpou

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