Regents approve new $75 million robotics laboratory

Thursday, September 15, 2016 - 6:01pm

Thursday, the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents approved an estimated $75 million new robotics laboratory, made possible through a leasing partnership with Ford Motor Company, that will be used as a research lab and teaching space for the College of Engineering.

Ford will use the fourth floor of the lab to conduct its own research, an agreement to allow for collaboration between University engineering students and Ford researchers.

The new lab will include offices for 30 faculty members and more than 100 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

The amount of funding from Ford will be determined by the final cost of the project but will not exceed $22,822,909. Under the lease, Ford will pay for expenses incurred during the lab’s use and adhere to University rules regarding use.

Upon completion, the University will join a small group of colleges that have a robot-specific laboratory. Unique to the University, however, is the new lab’s close proximity to Mcity, a test facility for driverless cars.

The lab will be on the northeast corner of the University’s North Campus. Construction is expected to be completed by winter 2020.

Engineering prof. Jessy Grizzle noted that the University will be one of the only universities that offers both learning and hands-on application in the field of robotics.

“Many places with strong robotics reputations are computer science-dominated and they don't test their theories on machines to the extent that we do,” Grizzle said in a press release. “At UM, most of our faculty members have an in-house robot. We put our algorithms in motion.”