Published: September 24, 2015 | Ann Arbor, MI
U-M’s Transportation Research Institute(UMTRI) has been awarded another $3 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to maintain, operate and sustain the Ann Arbor Test Environment established under the Safety Model Deployment Project, including vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure safety applications. In support of the university’s continuing research, the Ann Arbor City Council took action Monday night to approve a new partnership agreement with U-M for what’s being called the Ann Arbor Test Environment Project.
Under the new agreement, the city will support the continued research and testing environment through maintaining the existing equipment, performing any necessary troubleshooting and remediation of issues identified, network support, and enhancing the system as requested to support additional research efforts. The city will be reimbursed by U-M for performing an estimated $79,252 worth of work.
More than three years ago, U-M’s Transportation Research Institute recruited 2,800 residents and drivers for local companies to create one of the largest smart-car deployments ever conducted. Wireless communication devices were installed in volunteer vehicles and dozens of local roadside and intersection locations.
The devices audibly and visually alert drivers when safety threats approach, hopefully helping to avoid crashes.
It represents a continuation of the Safety Model Deployment Project on which the city agreed to partner with the university in May 2013, using a roughly $623,000 share of the university’s $14.9 million federal grant funds for the project to install some of the necessary fiber, sensors and electronic equipment around the city.
Participating in this research gives Ann Arbor access to additional traffic infrastructure, typically sensors, that will prove beneficial to residents, and will solidify the reputation of the U-M and Ann Arbor as a place where exploration and innovation are standard operating procedure, according to Mayor Christopher Taylor.
Jim Kosteva, the university’s community relations director, said,
“Through the research funding obtained by the university, we have been able to cooperatively upgrade the city’s traffic management software and install hardware devices along many roadways. This enables some of the communication between vehicles and the roadways that are at the foundation of developing connected vehicle technology and its interface with real-world settings.”
At the conclusion of the project, the city will own the fiber and equipment that was installed. The large-scale test of connected vehicle technologies in a real-world setting is part of USDOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems safety research program.
In addition to the on-roadway research being done in Ann Arbor, the university this summer opened Mcity, a 32-acre test site on U-M’s North Campus in Ann Arbor. It’s the world’s first controlled environment specifically designed to test the potential of connected and automated vehicle technologies that researchers believe will lead the way to mass-market driverless cars.
U-M’s Mobility Transformation Center also is working to put 20,000 connected vehicles on the road in southeast Michigan.