Autonomous Vehicle

U.S. army & U-M extend $100M deal for autonomous vehicle technology

Date: January 25, 2024. — The University of Michigan’s Automotive Research Center (ARC) has received a new five-year contract of up to $100 million from the U.S. Army to advance the development of autonomous vehicle technologies for off-road scenarios. This is a significant increase from the previous contract of $50 million, which was awarded in 2019.

The ARC, founded in 1994, is a partnership of 14 colleges and institutes led by U-M. It works with 34 industrial partners and four government agencies. The ARC undertakes cutting-edge research and innovation in several areas of ground system technology. These areas include energy, powertrain, mobility, safety, dependability, and human-autonomy teaming.

One of the ARC’s main focus is to use advanced modeling and simulation techniques. This includes high-fidelity synthetic settings, virtual vehicle prototypes, and virtual reality tools to enable autonomous operation in off-road, military, emergency, or disaster relief scenarios. These strategies can reduce the cost and time required to obtain data via physical experimentation. This is prohibitively expensive in such complicated and difficult contexts.

Bogdan Epureanu, ARC director and Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering as well as electrical engineering and computer science at U-M, stated that the ARC’s modeling and simulation skills are driving the development of current mobility systems. He also stated that the ARC’s research has applications in both the military and civilian sectors. For example, it can be used for digital engineering for reliability-based vehicle safety optimization.

The United States Army has been a long-time collaborator of the ARC, and it has recognized its contributions to the progress of the Army’s fleet of vehicles, the world’s largest. U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, stated that the ARC provides crucial research and collaboration to the United States Army, which has aided in the development of next-generation ground vehicle systems and other critical technologies for national security. He also stated that he has constantly pushed to ensure that the ARC obtains the necessary support and resources to continue its critical mission.

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