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DOT awards U-M-led hub $15M for connected and automated transportation

The US Department of Transportation has awarded a $15-million grant to renew the Center for Connected and Automated Transportation (CCAT), based in Ann Arbor and led by the University of Michigan. The partnership now brings together nine colleges and universities to focus on significantly advancing the US transportation system with emerging technologies that address safety and sustainability.

Announced in 2016 and funded with $15.76 million over its first six years, CCAT is one of 10 regional USDOT University Transportation Centers nationwide. Since that time, the center, which originally included six institutions, has produced a broad range of research that includes:

  • The creation of an augmented reality testing environment to help train autonomous vehicles on how to respond to dangerous traffic incidents.

  • Combining human capabilities and artificial intelligence to create “instantaneous crowdsourcing” to back up onboard autonomous systems.

  • Platooning connected and automated freight trucks to reduce traffic delays and wear and tear on roads.

  • Using data from sensors at intersections to augment the data provided by on-vehicle sensors to more accurately identify and locate pedestrians and other vehicles.

CCAT partners also engaged with more than 400 undergraduate and graduate students and oversaw the creation of several educational courses for kindergarten level through college. The courses reached students at Washtenaw Community College, Purdue University and U-M.

Headquartered in Ann Arbor, the center sits near the heart of the US auto industry and represents Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, as well as Michigan.

Original CCAT members include Purdue University, the University of Akron, the University of Illinois, Washtenaw Community College and Central State University in Ohio. The new additions are Northwestern University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin.

CCAT is part of an expansive University of Michigan portfolio of research tied to the future of mobility. In September 2022, the National Science Foundation awarded $5.1 million to Mcity to enhance its test facility, which opened in 2015 as the world’s first purpose-built test environment for connected and autonomous vehicles. The augmented reality testing environment developed by CCAT is deployed there.


A specially equipped Lincoln MKZ, based at Mcity, is an open-source connected and automated research vehicle available to U-M faculty and students, startups and others to help accelerate innovation. Image credit: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering

Mcity is developing next-generation digital infrastructure for AV testing and training, adding new virtual reality software and using real-world datasets to create tailor-made simulation scenarios for AVs. The system will eventually be available for remote tests by researchers in the US.

In addition to Mcity and UMTRI, U-M is home to the Walter E. Lay Auto Lab and is a founding partner of the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti.


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