The Automobile Club of Southern California has become a founding affiliate of the new University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center (MTC)—a major research partnership of industry, government, and academia that is laying the foundation for a commercially viable system of connected and automated vehicles to improve safety and reduce congestion. The Auto Club is one of 27 members from a wide range of industries.
“Connected and automated vehicles hold the potential to dramatically improve the safety, sustainability, and accessibility of our mobility system,” said Dr. Peter Sweatman, Director of MTC. “Through this consortium arrangement, we seek to engage the range of cutting-edge technology suppliers, thought leaders, and entrepreneurs required to inform and drive progress toward that transformative vision.”
The Affiliates represent a broad range of sectors that will play a role in shaping a system of connected and automated vehicles, including automotive manufacturing, vehicle communication devices, chips and hardware, traffic safety, and insurance, as well as companies engaged in such technologies as advanced modeling, big data, and intelligent transportation systems.
“There are many interrelated technical, legal, social, and economic challenges ahead related to connected cars,” said Steve Finnegan, manager of government relations for the Auto Club. “We want to help advance connected car and infrastructure systems in ways that will improve motorist safety. Working with this diverse group will give us a broader perspective about how our members will be impacted by emerging vehicle and infrastructure technologies.”
Affiliates commit a total of $150,000 each over three years in order to participate in selected MTC working groups and research programs as well as key research reviews and an annual MTC Congress. They will also have selected access to the MTC’s off-roadway and on-road test programs.
MTC is developing three complementary on-road vehicle deployments in Ann Arbor and across Southeast Michigan that will serve as test beds for partners to evaluate the effectiveness of various approaches. In addition, MTC is collaborating with the Michigan Department of Transportation to build Mcity, a full-scale 32-acre cityscape on campus for testing connected and automated vehicles and systems before they are tried out in real traffic. Mcity will have a formal opening on July 20.
The Affiliates complement a founding group of 14 Leadership Circle companies, who have each committed a total of $1 million over three years to support the MTC and its programs. The Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation have also supported the Center. The Center is seeking federal funds for further support for the research agenda.