Alberto Broggi’s innovations in vehicular perception have played an integral part in milestone projects in the development and advancement of intelligent vehicles, increasing awareness of the safety and environmental benefits driverless vehicles can bring to the world. With an early vision of the potential for the driverless vehicle, a hallmark of Broggi’s work has been to incorporate low-cost machine vision sensors such as cameras for vehicle perception instead of the more costly laser-based sensors. Broggi led the “MilleMiglia in Automatico” project in 1998, which was the first test of autonomous driving using off-the-shelf components. Demonstrating the importance of artificial vision for safety, this project involved driving over 2,000 km on regular roads with real traffic in Italy. Lessons learned from MilleMiglia led to perception systems developed by Broggi’s that were installed on the TerraMax 14-ton driverless truck. TerraMax competed in the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Grand Challenge project and was the only driverless vehicle to reach the finish using vison as its primary sensor. In 2010 he organized the VisLab Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge, which was the longest-ever test for driverless vehicles. Four electric vans equipped with sensors and actuators were driven on a 13,000-km route from Parma, Italy, to Shanghai, China, providing invaluable data for improving autonomous driving systems. Another milestone came in 2013 when Broggi’s lab tested the BRAiVE vehicle in downtown Parma, which negotiated two-way narrow rural roads, pedestrian crossings, traffic lights, and roundabouts in the middle of the day. The test required no human intervention and represented the first time an autonomous vehicle was driven on public roads with no one in the driver’s seat for part of the test.
An IEEE Fellow and recipient of multiple grants from the European Research Council, Broggi is full professor at the University of Parma and currently general manager of VisLab, a University of Parma spinoff company recently acquired by Silicon Valley company Ambarella.