University of Michigan receives $15M to continue automated, connected transportation research

A specially equipped Lincoln MKZ, based at Mcity, is an open-source connected and automated research vehicle available to U-M faculty and students, startups and others to help accelerate innovation. Image credit: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering

ANN ARBOR – The University of Michigan has received a new $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to continue its efforts in advancing connected and automated vehicle research.

The five-year grant will renew and expand the Ann Arbor-based and U-M-led Center for Connected and Automated Transportation. The partnership includes nine colleges and universities whose research aims to advance the U.S. transportation system with safe and sustainable emerging technologies.

CCAT members include Purdue University, the University of Akron, the University of Illinois, Washtenaw Community College and Central State University in Ohio, Northwestern University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin.

Funded with $15.76 million in its first six years, CCAT was first announced in 2016 and is a regional USDOT University Transportation Center.

According to a U-M release, CCAT has produced the following research over the years:

  • The creation of an augmented reality testing environment to help train autonomous vehicles on how to respond to dangerous traffic incidents.
  • Combining human capabilities and artificial intelligence to create “instantaneous crowdsourcing” to back up onboard autonomous systems.
  • Platooning connected and automated freight trucks to reduce traffic delays and wear and tear on roads.
  • Using data from sensors at intersections to augment the data provided by on-vehicle sensors to more accurately identify and locate pedestrians and other vehicles.

Since its founding, CCAT has also engaged with more than 400 students at both the undergraduate and graduate level. The center has also created multiple educational courses for students of all ages, as young as kindergarten through college level.

Students at U-M, Purdue University and Washtenaw Community College have taken CCAT’s specialized courses.

“Our University Transportation Center’s work has had a profound impact on the U.S. driving environment—from reduced traffic congestion to improvements in the safety testing of AVs,” director of both CCAT and Mcity Henry Liu said in a release. “We’ve also made strides in preparing a workforce for the continued development and deployment of connected and automated transportation technologies.”

Mcity is a public-private mobility research partnership led by U-M, and collaborates with automakers Toyota, Honda and Ford.

CCAT represents the Midwest region, including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

“CCAT has also collaborated heavily with industry to establish Southeast Michigan and the Midwest as the definitive regions for connected and automated transportation and mobility,” Liu said in a statement.

“The renewal of CCAT is critical to our mission to bring safe, equitable and efficient transportation solutions to individuals and communities around the world,” director of the U-M Transportation Research Institute Jim Sayer said in a statement.

“Over the next five years, CCAT will continue this vital research with our new partners from Northwestern, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as create more opportunities for underrepresented students through the creation of the Internship Student Program in Research Engineering.”