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David Zhu, a senior mechanical engineering major from Clinton, is one of the Mississippi State University students working on the ‘Halo Project' supercar, an all-electric and self-driving sport utility vehicle. (Photo by Megan Bean)

A newly designed “supercar” is pushing the limits of autonomous vehicles.

A team from Mississippi State University’s (MSU) Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS) has developed a self-driving, all-electric sport utility vehicle that could lead to the creation of safer roadways and accessibility to independent automotive transportation for people with disabilities.

The new supercar, known as Halo, utilizes an on-board NVIDIA supercomputer that enables the vehicle to navigate on-and-off-road terrain without human intervention.

The car can navigate a wide variety of terrain autonomously by using a sensor packing that includes LiDAR, radar and cameras. The four LiDAR sensors create detailed 3D maps of the vehicle’s surrounding, while the stereo cameras serve as the car’s eyes and helps recognize and classify objects.

The radar allows the vehicle to see better through inclement weather including rain and snow. It also can identify types of terrain in front of the vehicle.

All of the sensor data will be fed into an onboard supercomputer, provided by NVIDIA.

The vehicle also includes a next-generation lithium ion battery that has more than 50 percent energy capacity than previous generations, which is produced by Michigan-based A123 and enables the vehicle to travel approximately 230 miles on a single charge.

The four electric motors power each wheel individually and provide over 10,000 newton meters of torque to the wheels through custom-designed transmissions.

The project builds on a series of MSU automotive research projects, including the “Car of the Future,” an all-electric hybrid that combines superior efficiency, sporty handling and advanced technological features.

“When a car company produces a high-end vehicle that showcases all of its greatest technology, built to celebrate a brand’s engineering prowess, that vehicle is called a halo car,” Matthew Doude, CAVS associate director and Halo Project lead, said in a statement. “This new project is MSU’s halo car.

“The halo car highlights MSU’s advanced engineering capabilities and demonstrates how research partnerships are helping us drive new technologies to the forefront,” he added.  

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