Feds award $7.5M to Michigan for self-driving car testing

Keith Laing
The Detroit News

Washington — The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding a $7.5 million grant to the City of Detroit, the State of Michigan, the University of Michigan and the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti to boost research, development and testing of self-driving cars.

Testing in Michigan will take place at the robotic-car test facilities at UM's Mcity and the American Center for Mobility, as well as the streets of Detroit.

Visteon tests a driverless car at the American Center for Mobility's proving ground.

The funding, granted to a collective of the organizations known as the Michigan Mobility Collaborative, comes  from the Transportation Department's Automated Driving System Demonstration Grants program. It is part of $60 million being doled out for autonomous-car testing by the Trump administration.

Lawmakers who sought the funding cheered the decision by the Transportation Department to award the grant. 

"This investment will help keep Michigan at the forefront of mobility, and ensure our state remains the global leader in developing self-driving innovations and building the vehicles of the future," U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in a statement. 

“Michigan continues to pave the way for developing and testing safe autonomous vehicles,” U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, added. “This is an important investment that will help Michigan continue its leadership on a global scale.” 

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, also applauded the announcement from the Transportation Department, adding: "This critical funding from USDOT is further proof that Michigan continues to be the home of the global auto industry and advanced mobility technologies.

“Michigan’s unique automotive and mobility ecosystem is unparalleled and does not exist elsewhere in the country," she said. "Self-driving cars are the future of the auto industry and they represent an opportunity to improve and diversify our economy here in Michigan, while also improving safety.”

Michigan lawmakers lobbied for the funding in a March 21 letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. 

"The State of Michigan is unquestionably the world’s leader in connected and automated vehicle technology," members of Michigan's congressional delegate, including Peters, Stabenow and Dingell, wrote to the Transportation Department chief then.

"It is estimated that 76% of the U.S. auto industry’s research and development happens in Michigan, and the state ranks number one in advanced automotive industry jobs," the lawmakers continued. "Michigan is at the epicenter for all things mobility. We are therefore proud to express our support for the grant application being put forward by the Michigan Mobility Collaborative." 


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Twitter: @Keith_Laing