GREENVILLE — Cars that drive themselves, electric vehicles that charge wirelessly and other automotive technology that once seemed straight out of science fiction will be put in the spotlight this week as automotive experts from throughout the Southeast gather in Greenville.

The IEEE/ITIC Automotive Innovations Driving Experience on Thursday and Friday serves as a showcase for the growing research-and-development capabilities in South Carolina’s automotive sector.CU-iCAR sign

Seminars on the first day and the morning of the second day will be at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) and begin at 9 a.m. Driving demonstrations will be at the South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center (SCTAC) and will go from 2 to 5 p.m.

The Southeast has become a hub of advanced manufacturing since several European and Asian companies began investing in new automotive plants in the 1990s.

Joachim Taiber, a research professor in Clemson’s department of automotive engineering, said the Southeast also is building its research-and-development capabilities, which are critical to remaining competitive.

“Furthering research and development will help attract new companies to the state and encourage the ones already here to expand,” he said.

It will also open new research opportunities to graduate students in the automotive engineering program at CU-ICAR, said Imtiaz Haque, the chair of the automotive engineering in the College of Engineering and Science.

“Connecting students with industry benefits both,” he said. “Students get real-world experience in product development, while industry gets fresh ideas from highly motivated, enthusiastic students. It’s a win-win.

“More research and development in the Southeast will also open more local job opportunities, which will help keep graduates in the area.”

Taiber serves as general chair of the IEEE event and principal investigator of a sponsored research project with SCTAC.

CU-ICAR and SCTAC are working together to develop what researchers call “a connected vehicle testbed” that includes concrete and asphalt straightaways, an urban testing grid and an interstate test track.

The testbed is operated by the nonprofit International Transportation Innovation Center (ITIC) that will be in the spotlight as automotive experts gather for the event.

ITIC aims to be a world-class automotive testing center, where researchers can test drive prototype vehicles and try out new components and networked systems.

CU-ICAR’s involvement gives ITIC the advantage of having access to researchers who are working on cutting-edge technology, including cars connected to the Internet, self-driving cars, remote-control cars and wireless charging for electric vehicles.

Admission for the two-day IEEE event is $15 for IEEE members and $20 for non-IEEE members. Tickets are $10 for those who want to attend only the Friday driving demonstration. Both days are free for Clemson faculty members and students, but they must register to attend.

To register, go to http://bit.ly/EcosystemsExperience.

The interactive presentations and CU-ICAR lab demonstrations will be on the CU-ICAR campus. Check-in will be in the TD Gallery at 5 Research Drive.

Check-in for the vehicle exhibition and driving demonstrations will be at the SCTAC Administration Building at 2 Exchange Drive in Greenville. Driving demonstrations will be at the ITIC track, a five-minute drive from the check-in point.

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