Ball and Team Awarded U.S. Patent

December 14, 2020

Dr. John E. Ball (Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Associate Professor), Dr. Reuben F. Burch V (Industrial and Systems Engineering Assistant Professor), Lucas D. Cagle (ECE graduate and current Ph.D. student), Collin S. Davenport (Mechanical Engineering (ME) graduate and current M.S. student), James R. Gafford (former CAVS research engineer), Tyler J. Hannis (Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS) research engineer), Andrew R. Hegman (ECE graduate), Andrew M. LeClair (ME graduate), Dr. Yucheng Liu (ME professor), Dr. Michael S. Mazzola (former ECE professor), Howard G. McKinney (FedEx engineer), Tasmia Reza (ECE graduate), Dr. Jian Shi (former CAVS research professor), Dr. Pan Wei (ECE Ph.D. graduate), and Dennison W. Iacomini (ECE graduate), were awarded U.S. patent 10761538, entitled “Systems and methods for enhanced collision avoidance on logistics ground support equipment using multi-sensor detection fusion.”

The patent was for a system that enabled the conversion of an industrial tractor into a semi-autonomous system with collision avoidance. The system employed modern deep learning techniques, fuzzy logic, and an advanced model-predictive control (MPC) system. The system used both lidar (a three-dimensional laser scanner) and industrial camera data which was fused to robustly detect objects and obstacles in the tractor’s path and prevent collisions. The system’s advanced MPC can track up to four towed trailers and predict and prevent collision events involving either the towing tractor or the towed trailers.

The work performed by Dr. Ball and the overall team makes industrial towing applications safer. “This work was a great combination of signal and image processing theory successfully applied in a complicated real-world system. It was exciting to see the students learn so much and grow in their applied engineering skills,” stated Dr. Ball.

“This is amazing work of practical relevance with a focus on rural area needs – a true testament to the land-grant mission of the University,” said Dr. Khan, the ECE Department Head.

For more information about Dr. Ball, please visit his webpage.


The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Mississippi State University consists of 23 faculty members (including 7 endowed professors), 3 clinical faculty, 10 professional and support staff, and over 700 undergraduate and graduate students with approximately 88 being at the Ph.D. level. With research expenditure of the department in excess of $10M, the department houses the largest High Voltage Laboratory among North American Universities. For more detailed information on the department please visit our website