Industry leaders join U-M mobility transformation initiative

May 06, 2014

From left, VP for Research Jack Hu, Engineering Dean David Munson, Greg Johnson of MDOT, and MTC Director Peter Sweatman.U-M’s Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) today announced that key industry leaders from a variety of sectors, including Bosch, Econolite, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and Xerox have joined the Center as its initial industry partners. They will join with federal, state, and local government representatives in a major U-M initiative to revolutionize the movement of people and goods worldwide.

The goal of MTC is to lay the foundations of a commercially viable system of connected and automated vehicles—vehicles that communicate wirelessly with one another and with infrastructure to warn of potential hazards and allow increasing automation of vehicle functions. Plans call for demonstrating a working system in Ann Arbor by 2021.

“The potential of this technology is truly transformative, opening up broad opportunities in the emerging marketplace,” said Peter Sweatman, director of MTC. “Partnering with these and a select group of other visionary companies from a range of sectors that will play a role in shaping the future—as well as with government at all levels—is critical if we are to realize that promise.”

Systems of connected and automated vehicles could dramatically reduce crashes, relieve urban congestion, and cut pollution and energy use.

MTC’s new partners—the initial members of the center’s Leadership Circle—convened for the first time today on the occasion of a groundbreaking ceremony marking the start of construction on a unique simulated urban environment for testing advances in connected and automated mobility systems.

Located on 32 acres of U-M’s North Campus Research Complex, the off-roadway test site is being designed and built in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Transportation to simulate the complexities of a dynamic urban environment. It will include a network of approximately three lane-miles of concrete and asphalt roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, sidewalks, roundabouts, benches, simulated buildings, streetlights, and obstacles such as construction barriers. Current plans call for the facility to be completed in the fall of 2014.

The MTC is also developing three complementary on-roadway vehicle deployments of up to 20,000 vehicles across southeastern Michigan. The deployments will serve as test beds for evaluating consumer behavior with these transformative technologies and exploring market opportunities.

To accelerate the development and implementation of connected and automated technology, members of the MTC’s Leadership Circle will work together to identify opportunities and barriers to achieving them, anticipate and shape key standards and regulations, and help guide the direction of the research.

“The task before us goes beyond the technical challenges,” said Sweatman. “In our research, we will be addressing the interrelated legal, political, regulatory, social, economic, and urban planning issues as well.”

Members of the Leadership Circle will each commit a total of $1 million over three years to the support of the MTC and its programs. In addition to adding members to the Leadership Circle, the MTC is planning other opportunities to engage industry in the work of the center.

“A wide range of sectors have a stake in the future of mobility,” Sweatman said. “We are reaching out to such areas as telecommunications, big data management, freight, public transportation, and insurance as well as to OEMs and tier 1 suppliers.”

Information for the initial members of the Leadership Circle:

Robert Bosch LLC — http://www.bosch.com/
Econolite Group Inc. — http://econolite.com/
Ford Motor Co. — http://www.ford.com/
General Motors Co. — http://www.gm.com/
Toyota Motor Corp. — http://www.toyota.com/
Xerox Corp. — http://www.xerox.com/