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PhD Student Dreams of a Fully Autonomous Future

John MaroliJohn MaroliJohn Maroli has always been interested in how things work. As a child, he tinkered with LEGO, rockets and radio-controlled vehicles. Now, as a PhD student at The Ohio State University studying electrical and computer engineering, he took his childhood interest and applied it to the automotive industry.

Maroli researches machine learning applications in autonomous vehicles. His broader interests include automation, robotics and space.

Autonomous vehicle technology is a rapidly growing area. Although most people think of autonomous vehicles as a way for them to take a nap or check social media during their morning commute, Maroli says autonomous technology has more important implications.

“Almost every automotive company is adding automation to their vehicles, and states are beginning to allow autonomous vehicles to be tested on public roads,” Maroli said. “I’m excited about all the attention because increased autonomous vehicle research has the potential to save lives by eliminating human driver error, which is the biggest cause of crashes.”

In fact, Maroli is so passionate about autonomous technology that his honeymoon did not stop him from continuing his research. After he and his wife got married in May, they intended to visit France and Italy. However, while they were planning the trip, Maroli was invited to Takeda Laboratory at Nagoya University in Japan to collaborate on autonomous vehicle research.

“The partnership with Takeda Laboratory at Nagoya University helped me deepen my knowledge base and sparked opportunities for future collaboration,” Maroli said. “Their group is doing excellent work in the autonomous vehicles sector, and they complement the Control and Intelligent Transportation Research Lab at Ohio State.”

After he graduates, Maroli will build upon his controls and automation research at NASA.

Written by Jake Berg, CAR writing intern