University of Michigan announces new transportation research center
The creation of a new University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center was announced Tuesday with the aim of changing the way we think about how people and products move from place to place.
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
The new center will focus on these emerging technologies as well as on the policy and economic issues that surround changing transportation infrastructure.
“Some of the biggest challenges we face are not technical,” Stephen Forrest , U-M's vice president for research, said in a statement.
"There are many social, political, regulatory and economic issues that must be addressed in order to realize the promise of technological advances. With our acknowledged strengths in these areas, and our culture of interdisciplinary cooperation, U-M is uniquely suited to address the full complexity of the challenges ahead."
University spokesperson David Lampe said in an interview that most of the new center’s participants already are working at the university’s various schools and colleges. The center will have some dedicated staff who will begin work in the North Campus Research Complex.
Seed funding for the new center primarily will be drawn from existing research funding from UMTRI, the office of the vice president for research, the College of Engineering and the U-M Energy Institute.
“We’re also in the process of approaching industry sources as well as state and federal government sources for funding, especially the U.S. Department of Transportation,” Lampe said.
UMTRI director Peter Sweatman will also direct the new center. He said in a statement that the technologies being tested at the center could both increase the safety of travel and bring economic benefits.
"Integrating the most promising approaches to mobility into a coordinated system could reduce motor vehicle fatalities and injuries as well as energy consumption and carbon emissions by as much as a factor of 10," he said.
"We also estimate that freight transportation costs could be cut by a factor of 3, and the need for parking could go down by a factor of five."
The university said in the release that the new center will collaborate with both the government and the transportation industry to make improvements to travel for both humans and cargo.
“U-M has a long history of automotive research and collaborations with industry,” U-M College of engineering dean David Munson said in a statement.
“The MTC will help us take our commitment to a new level and allow us to work together to pave the way for the future.”
The University of Michigan is in the midst of hosting the Global Symposium on Connected Vehicles and Infrastructure. The three-day event, attended by US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, features a range of speakers and panels dealing with issues related to V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle) and V2I (Vehicle to Infrastructure) connection.
Symposium attendees also will have the opportunity to meet with UMTRI researchers and learn about the ongoing connected vehicles study that includes more than 3,000 cars, trucks and busses communicating with each other and the local infrastructure.
The Ann Arbor City Council voted Monday night to accept a portion of the $14.9 million grant from the Department of Transportation that helps pay for the project. The federal funds will help reimburse the city for costs incurred while installing the necessary fibers, sensors and electronic equipment.
Ben Freed covers business for AnnArbor.com. You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2