Electrical and Information Technology

Faculty of Engineering, LTH

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Russ Whiton created cellular car navigation for autonomous vehicles


Russel Whiton

Title of thesis: Dude, Where's My Car? Cellular Navigation for Autonomous Driving.

Link to thesis in Lund University Research Portal.

Defence: Wednesday April 10th, 09:15, room E:1406.
Zoom link.  Zoom ID: 69963010473.

Describe your research in a popular science way

This thesis is a case study in using cellular signals for navigation for a passenger vehicle in environments where GPS is most likely to be unsatisfactory. It touches on many of the important aspects of the problem, starting with how such a navigation technology might be integrated into vehicular electronic systems for advanced use cases like autonomous driving and what challenges need to be overcome if cellular navigation is to work in the environments where satellite navigation also struggles.

Illustration of car navigation

A transmitted signal from a cellular base station arrives at a car through several different paths, undergoing different propagation mechanisms for each. Illustration: Max Boerboom.

What made you want to pursue a PhD?

I worked in industry between my Bachelor’s and Master’s, and for 6 years between my Master’s and PhD. It was appealing to me to gain a better theoretical understanding of engineering principles to see problems with more clarity. I also realized that commercialization frequently does not allow for in-depth exploration of subjects, because when something works well enough for deployment it is time to move on to generating new revenue streams.

What is the most fascinating or interesting with your thesis subject?

Navigation as a subject is fascinating. In my thesis, I tried to draw some kind of line from ancient Polynesians navigating using star compasses through to GPS to navigation methods that are novel in 2024 that I developed in this project with my collaborators.

Do you believe some results from your research will be applied in practice eventually? And if so, how / how?

Yes, some of my colleagues in the department are already extending my work for channel modelling. For the navigation methods, I think some form of them might be applied to tracking problems for future cellular networks.

What are your plans?

I bought a Volkswagen Caddy and I’m converting it into a micro-camper. My short-term plan is to rent out my apartment and make a career shift into a life of vagrancy and live in my van, but that choice might be re-evaluated when the temperature drops and the money runs dry.