Research and collaboration at Mcity go beyond technology, drawing from the expertise of faculty and researchers in areas of study throughout the U-M community, such as engineering, public policy, law, business, social sciences and urban planning.
Drawing on Expertise Throughout Our Campus
Challenges in a world of connected and automated vehicles are not just technical. That’s why, in addition to our industry and government partners, Mcity draws on knowledge and expertise throughout U-M to explore the scope of issues that must be addressed to best implement emerging technologies. The research interests within Mcity span data science, law, policy, urban planning, energy, public health, medicine, social science, economics, and business, as well as engineering and science.
Below are several examples of the various U-M schools and entities we work with. We welcome research collaborators from across the U-M community.
U-M’s College of Engineering has been a key partner since Mcity was established. As of January 1, 2022, Mcity became a unit of Michigan Engineering. Many Mcity-funded research projects involve Michigan Engineering faculty and students. Another engineering initiative is TechLab at Mcity, a Company-in-Residence incubator for early-stage advanced mobility technology companies in the connected and automated vehicle industry. TechLab is managed by Michigan Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship, with support from Mcity. The program gives undergraduate students an opportunity for hands-on work with TechLab companies to solve real engineering problems.
U-M Transportation Research Institute
Founded in 1965, U-M Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) is a global leader in transportation research and a partner of choice for industry leaders, foundations, and government agencies. UMTRI has conducted more than 1,000 multidisciplinary research projects in areas involving social and behavioral analyses, accident data collection, traffic safety analysis, and standards development and testing, as well as the deployment and evaluation of new safety and mobility technologies.
Mcity is partnering with UMTRI on research and in the deployment of connected and automated vehicle technologies. Through this work UMTRI has collected over 70 terabytes of data; nearly seven million trips; 45 million miles; and 138.5 billion records. In 2020, UMTRI became a unit of Michigan Engineering.
Located within UMTRI is the Center for Connected and Automated Transportation (CCAT). Established with a $2.4M grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the center plays a unique regional role in promoting transportation research, education, workforce development, and technology transfer activity. The Mcity Test Facility is an important resource for CCAT researchers.
Legal and liability issues are among the most challenging that must be addressed as the traditional vehicle ownership and use model evolves and literally takes consumers out of the driver’s seat. Mcity has funded research projects in this area conducted by Michigan Law faculty, and the school offers courses that give students a chance to explore the legal issues surrounding advanced mobility.
Stephen M. Ross School of Business
Michigan Ross faculty work with Mcity industry partners on a variety of mobility-related projects, offering the business-case and management expertise to make innovations come to life. We look forward to further collaboration with Ross faculty and students as we explore new business models to speed the safe deployment of connected and automated vehicles.
A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Faculty at the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning are exploring the implications of connected, automated, and driverless vehicles on urban design and sustainability. How might city centers be designed – or redesigned – if fewer people own their own vehicles or take advantage of ride-sharing services? Will the need for parking options decline, freeing up space for parks or new business development? Will the potential environmental benefits of fewer vehicles on the road be realized?
Mcity collaborates with faculty from the U-M Robotics Department in a number of ways, including through Mcity’s open-source connected and automated research vehicles, or Open CAVs. These vehicles can change the way robotics researchers do their work by providing access to a vehicle already equipped with sensors and software to support automated driving that would otherwise be too expensive for them to own and maintain. The new Ford Robotics Building opened in April 2021. The facility includes garage space for self-driving cars. U-M is the only university with a robotics lab down the road from a testing site for driverless and connected vehicles – the Mcity Test Facility. In June 2022, U-M launched a new undergraduate robotics program, the first among Top 10 engineering schools.