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U-M moving ahead with $6.5M facility for testing connected vehicles; expanding model deployment to 9,000 vehicles

The University of Michigan is proceeding to the construction phase of a new $6.5-million facility (earlier post) for testing connected and automated vehicles; the facility, the schematic design of which was recently approved by the university’s the Board of Regents, is part of the U-M’s Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) (earlier post).

A key focus of the MTC is the “model deployment” allowing researchers to test emerging concepts in connected and automated vehicles and vehicle systems in both off-road and on-road settings. The model deployment will build in part on the $30-million study for the US Department of Transportation involving nearly 3,000 private cars, trucks and buses in Ann Arbor with wireless devices to communicate information that can alert drivers in potential crash situations to each other as well as to similar devices located at intersections, curves, and freeway sites in the area. (Earlier post.)

The new North Campus Research Complex (NCRC) facility, which will be an important element in the ongoing joint project with industry and government to develop and implement an advanced system of connected and automated vehicles, simulates a dynamic urban environment.

Located on 30 acres of the NCRC, the test environment 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 by the fall of 2014. Funding will be provided by the College of Engineering, the Office of Research, the Office of the Provost, and a grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation.

We are on the cusp of a revolution in transportation unlike any we’ve seen since the introduction of the automobile. The new facility will help the MTC partnership accelerate and integrate innovations that will lead to a commercially viable automated mobility system that will fundamentally transform mobility in our society.

—Peter Sweatman, director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI)

Plans call for expanding the ~3,000-vehicle model deployment to 9,000 vehicles across the entire Ann Arbor area. In addition, the MTC will work with the state Transportation Department to install “smart” infrastructure involving 20,000 vehicles across Southeastern Michigan. Ultimately, the MTC plans to deploy an advanced system of 2,000 connected and automated vehicles in Ann Arbor.


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