Autonomous driving:

Master’s student Felix Naser conducts research at the MIT

From Garching to the MIT: TUM student Felix Naser is developing a software for autonomous driving in Massachusetts. (Photo: Felix Naser)
From Garching to the MIT: TUM student Felix Naser is developing a software for autonomous driving in Massachusetts. (Photo: Felix Naser)
From Garching to the MIT: Master’s student Felix Naser is currently in Boston, USA, working at one of the world’s most prestigious institutes. He is helping to build the new Research Center for Autonomous Cars, and he is working on his Master’s thesis. How did Felix manage to get to the MIT, and how is he doing in Boston?

TUMstudinews: Felix, how did you get to the MIT in Boston? Did you simply send an application?

Felix Naser: What drives me is to try to make urban mobility safer, more comfortable, and energy efficient. That’s why I started in September 2015 to google for automotive research projects all over the world, for example at the NU Singapore, Standford, Carnegy Mellon, or the Queensland University in Australia. At that time, a new Research Center was opened at the MIT in cooperation with Toyota, which means also a new team was formed. Luckily, and thanks to my experience and training, I fit into the profile.

Before you went to Boston, you had already been to Singapore to work on Mobility-on-Demand solutions for major cities. What results did you achieve?

We joined our colleagues from the Singapore MIT Alliance for Research and Technologoy (SMART) for the project kickoff. We reinstalled the software for a self-driving Golf Cart.

At the MIT, you are able to work with Prof. Daniela Rus, Director of the renowned Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. How are you in contact?

We are closely working together. We meet several times a week to discuss how the project is going on. After I contacted her by email, she managed to get me here and organized a scholarship for me. She is a great researcher, and I am very grateful to be allowed to work in her team.

What exactly is your job at the MIT?

As one of the Lead Systems Engineers, I helped to build a full-scale parallel autonomous research platform over the course of eight months. For this, we equipped a conventional Toyota Prius with sensors and with integrated software in order to make it drive autonomously.

What experiences did you make in Boston so far? What is different than in Germany?

My flat mates welcomed me very warmly. We’ve really grown together during the months I’ve been here. I am very happy that we can spend so much of our spare time together. Generally, I have experienced everyone here as open-minded and very helpful.

You’ll be staying for 12 months. What are your plans after that?

There are options to stay here, but there’s nothing certain yet. We’ll see.

(Interview: Verena Meinecke)

Felix Naser (25), who is from Penzberg, first studied Aircraft and Vehicle Informatics in Ingolstadt. During an integrated degree program at the BMW Group, he was able to make practical use of his theoretical knowledge. His Bachelor’s thesis was about special sensors that help highly automated vehicles to navigate. In 2012, he was granted a scholarship by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. At TUM, he is in his third Master’s semester of Automotive Software Engineering.

Further Information:

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Teamwork at the MIT: Prof. John Leonard, post-doc Liam Paull, and visiting student Felix Naser (from left to right) (Photo: Felix Naser)
Teamwork at the MIT: Prof. John Leonard, post-doc Liam Paull, and visiting student Felix Naser (from left to right) (Photo: Felix Naser)
Autonomous driving: The blue car serves as a parallel autonomy research platform, while the white one serves to collect data. (Photo: Felix Naser)
Autonomous driving: The blue car serves as a parallel autonomy research platform, while the white one serves to collect data. (Photo: Felix Naser)

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