Sen. Debbie Dingell (D–Mich.) announced Thursday that the University of Michigan will be given a $2,470,600 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Centers to research connected and automated vehicles.
The grant will establish a Center for Connected and Automated Transportation on campus as well as on efforts to investigate vehicle safety and congestion management through the usage of connected vehicle systems.
The funding will also be used by the Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment, an initiative by the University’s Transportation Research Institute that implements connected vehicles and infrastructure around Ann Arbor, and Mcity, an off-roadway testing facility for automated vehicles.
“We are at the cusp of a major transformation in the auto industry, and the University of Michigan is leading the way in the research and development of new technologies that will shape the future of mobility,” Dingell said in a press release. “This grant will give U-M new tools to address the critical transportation challenges facing our nation by promoting connected and autonomous technology research and education.”
According to the press release, the research will include observing characteristics of traffic flow and how to incorporate connected and automated vehicles, as well as regular vehicles. Additionally, transportation infrastructure design and planning for CAVs, cybersecurity management of CAVs and impacts of CAVs on a global scale in terms of safety, efficiency and environmental effects will be implemented.
The grant given to the University is one of 35 five-year grants awarded through the government's University Transportation Centers program. The University will be the leader of a group of colleges and universities on the project, including Washtenaw Community College, Purdue University and others.
“I’m also pleased that Washtenaw Community College will be a partner in this project, as they will bring a unique perspective and skill set to this important effort. This partnership demonstrates the level of expertise the state of Michigan has in this critical field,” Dingell said.
This is not the first time in the past few months the University has received funding for autonomous vehicle research. In August, the Toyota Research Institute gave $22 million for autonomous vehicle research at the University. The Toyota funding and research is overseen by UM Associate Profs. Ryan Eustice and Ed Olson, and Toyota is also a founding partner of the University’s Mobility Transformation Center, which operates Mcity.
In a September interview with the Daily, Olson said the funding being given to research on autonomous vehicles is crucial for the scientific realm to get off the ground.
“The problems that we are working to solve are the best kind: really hard,” he said. “Fundamental research is needed to solve these problems and so TRI is investing in both internal research and university partnerships like the one at UM.”