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TRANSP Seminar: Automotive Vehicle Safety: Lessons Learned from Aerospace Systems, Mark Whorton, UTSI

Date: Thursday, October 19

Time: 3:40 pm - 4:55 pm

Location: 622 Min Kao


Tennessee has succeeded in creating a leadership position in the automotive industry by smart, timely investments.  Since the opening of a Nissan auto assembly plant in 1983, OEMs have invested $30 billion in the state of Tennessee and positioned the state as the nation’s leader in automobile manufacturing.  Today the state is poised to take another step and move up the value chain from production leadership to innovation excellence in the automotive industry.  The University of Tennessee is ideally suited to pull advanced technologies from the nation’s space, defense, and energy programs into the state’s automotive industry and revolutionize transportation safety for the nation.   From the first launch vehicles developed to carry men to orbit to rovers exploring the solar system today, NASA has used autonomous vehicle technologies with a heavy emphasis on mission success and safety.  The Air Force employs more drone pilots for remotely piloted aircraft than for conventional aircraft, and considerable research is underway to integrate autonomous aircraft into operational airspace.  Safe operation of autonomous cars in the domestic transportation infrastructure will require similar considerations of test, evaluation, and certification for safety.  This presentation will address some of the developments in the aerospace industry that have potential application for safe operation of autonomous cars.


Mark S. Whorton is the Executive Director of the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) in Tullahoma. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics where he also serves on the Council of Directors as Director–Technical, Space and Missiles Group. Whorton’s technical focus during his 30-year career has been dynamics and control of launch vehicles, spacecraft, and space structures. Before coming to the University of Tennessee Space Institute he was President of Teledyne Optech, Inc. and also was the Chief Technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville, Alabama. While at Teledyne he conceived and led the development of an earth imaging platform for the International Space Station which was launched and began testing in June of 2017. Prior to joining Teledyne in 2009, Whorton had a 20-year career with the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center where he managed the guidance, navigation and mission analysis branch, led multiple advanced flight technology projects and was a technical expert for crew launch vehicle guidance, navigation and control systems. Dr. Whorton received his PhD in Aerospace Eng. from the George Institute of Technology and BS and MS degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Alabama.

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