UM to lead Midwest DOT Automated Transportation center

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

The University of Michigan said Tuesday its Ann Arbor campus will serve as the Midwest’s Center for Connected and Automated Transportation, a new project financed by a $2.47 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Six universities will participate in the center, which will explore how communities can transition to connected and automated vehicles. The center also will research advanced mobility policy; designing advanced roads, intersections and bridges; public acceptance of self-driving cars and connected and self-driving transportation system control and operations.

Other universities participating include Washtenaw Community College; Purdue University; University of Illinois; University of Akron and Central State University in Ohio. The center is one of 10 regional university transportation centers and will represent Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

“This center provides yet another opportunity at the University of Michigan to conduct groundbreaking research on connected and automated vehicles, and to understand future transportation needs and challenges,” Jim Sayer, director of the UM Transportation Research Institute, said in a statement. The institute will house the center.

Part of the center’s goal is to educate a workforce to help make the transition into a world of autonomous vehicles. Participating universities will establish new classes to train engineers, technicians and others. UM has established the Next Generation Transportation Systems program within its Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Ann Arbor already has thousands of vehicles on the road that communicate with one another and infrastructure through the Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment.

UM said the new center will build on research already under way at the university’s Transportation Research Institute and the UM Mobility Transformation Center that operates the Mcity self-driving vehicle testing site.

“Connected and automated vehicles will have a disruptive impact on our transportation system,” UM Transportation Research Institute research professor Henry Liu, who leads the new center, said in a statement. “While connected and automated vehicle technologies will continue to advance towards incorporation into public roadway systems, there exist a variety of open questions and issues on technology development, policy and planning, and system design and operations that require answers and resolution. CCAT aims to address some of these questions.”

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