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Posted on Tue, May 14, 2013 : 8:45 a.m.

Ann Arbor gets $623K grant to help out with University of Michigan smart car study

By Ryan J. Stanton

The city of Ann Arbor is lending an assist on the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute's study of technology that helps cars communicate with each other.

The City Council voted Monday night to accept $622,884 in federal grant funds — part of a larger $14.9 million grant awarded to UMTRI — for the city's role in the multi-year project.

Under an agreement with the university, the city is using the money to pay for installation of telecommunications fiber, sensors and electronic equipment, as well as some network support.


A vehicle equipped with Wi-Fi-like technology drives through a scenario at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor last August.

Melanie Maxwell I

UMTRI was awarded $14.9 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2011 to undertake a study of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) safety technology in Ann Arbor.

The project involves a large-scale test of connected vehicle technologies in a real-world, multimodal setting over a 30-month period, Russell Hanshue, IT infrastructure services manager for the city, wrote in a memo to council members.

Hanshue said each participating vehicle will be equipped with a mix of V2V and V2I safety systems, and UMTRI's program will enable wireless communications among the participating vehicles and between those vehicles and roadside equipment, which will generate data.

"The program will determine the effectiveness of connected vehicle safety applications at reducing crashes, and will show how drivers respond to these technologies while operating a vehicle," he said.

"The data collected will be used to enable development of safety applications both in vehicles and for traffic controls. Passenger cars, commercial trucks, and transit buses will be included in the program."

The city will own the fiber and equipment that's installed, Hanshue said, suggesting it boosts Ann Arbor's reputation as a leading research community for transportation technologies.

UMTRI is hosting the first annual Global Symposium on Connected Vehicles and Infrastructure this week from Tuesday through Thursday at Rackham Auditorium. The three-day event is bringing together leading industry, academic and government experts to discuss and strategize how connected vehicle technology is transforming the transportation industry.

In addition to a list of speakers and panel discussions, the event will provide opportunities to meet with UMTRI researchers to learn about the largest deployment of V2V and V2I technology in the world, with almost 3,000 connected cars, freight trucks and transit buses.


A description of the city's installation work being funded by the $622,884.

City of Ann Arbor

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Wed, May 15, 2013 : 10:58 a.m.

This project, and the installations, were done last year...


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 1:18 a.m.

This is a great way to spend money. We might not have any roads to drive on the way we're going but our cars will be smarter than our politicians.

Bertha Venation

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

UMTRI gave me one of the fully loaded cars to drive. It's nice (when it starts). Saves mileage on the Hoveround.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

Our car is part of this study too. I sort of feel guilty in that we rarely drive in the part of town where the sensors are (once a week, maybe) but other than people asking "what are those things on your car?" every now and again I pretty much forget about the sensors entirely until we get the e-mail to come in for a data upload. If they could expand the area covered I'd feel less guilty (we live on the SE side, from what I understand all the sensors are on the NE side of town).

Ben Freed

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

It's great that the grant is helping to cover more than just the costs to UMTRI. Overhead costs can be forgotten and it's fantastic that the money is being used to help cover the city's end of this.

Dog Guy

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

I prefer my vehicles to concentrate on running, stopping, turning and not distracting themselves texting other vehicles. And we may expect our mini-vans to snitch our faux pas to the AAPD.

David Cahill

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

This is a great project. Both Sabra's car and mine are already participating.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

Interesting ... thanks for sharing your experience. It'll be interesting to see how they come up with a fix for that.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

@ Ryan, it really hasn't had any affect at all to me, other than hearing some noises when you are near a participating car. There is one flaw too, since it based on GPS you get alerts at overpasses when a vehicle is either above or below your car.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

What have been your experiences so far?


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

Mine too - I think this is so cool.