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Riveting opportunity to redefine global auto industry

American Center for Mobility will set industry standards for connected, autonomous vehicles

“In Michigan, we’re building the next-generation of technologies in mobility and continuing our role as the global leader for automotive design, research, and development,” said Kevin Kerrigan, senior vice president of the Michigan Automotive Office.
willow_run

Willow Run is the place where history is made.

In the early 1940s, the manufacturing plant at Willow Run produced direly needed munitions, including the legendary B-24 Liberator Bomber, a key weapon used to turn the tide in the allies’ favor during World War II, leading to a triumph that elevated the United States as a global manufacturing giant. Not to mention, the site was where women (most notably “Rosie the Riveter”) entered the workforce en masse.

Today, once again, Willow Run is where a new chapter in American history is being written.

The 330-acre Willow Run site that spills into Ypsilanti Township has been selected as the strategic location for the testing and standardization of connected vehicles (equipped with internet access to devices/inside the auto), and autonomous vehicles, commonly referred to as driverless cars.

The American Center for Mobility (ACM), a collaboration with industry, government, academia, and private-sector partners, is located within a high-tech corridor in southeastern Michigan where nearly three-quarters of all auto-related research in the world is conducted.

“We are the heart and soul of the auto industry,” said Gov. Rick Snyder during his most recent State of the State address. “But (we must realize) the automobile industry of today will be called the mobility industry in 10 or 20 years. It will be about how people travel, not just about the vehicle they travel in. It’s time now to understand, we need to be looking toward the future.”

To prepare for the inevitable automotive industry transformation and future of transportation, Gov. Snyder proposed ACM as a vital investment in the infrastructure of how autonomous and connected vehicles will communicate and be tested. The governor’s initiative comes as the Obama administration announced $3.9 billion for accelerating research and development of self-driving vehicles. 

Technologies used in connected and autonomous vehicles aim to increase safety and mobility, and decrease energy use and emissions. The mobility center will feature simulation, track testing and on-road testing.

Funding for ACM will be seeded by an investment from the state, with the collaboration of industry and academia. It is expected that the federal government will also play a significant role in supporting its establishment.

“In Michigan, we’re building the next-generation of technologies in mobility and continuing our role as the global leader for automotive design, research, and development,” said Kevin Kerrigan, senior vice president of the Michigan Automotive Office. 

“Public/private partnerships like this are a key in securing our state’s future in the automotive industry,” he said.

The center will be operated by a self-sustaining nonprofit. Private companies will pay to use the site and self-certify vehicles in a process similar to current safety related technology.

The mobility center will serve as a complementary site to the University of Michigan’s Mcity, the world’s first controlled environment testing site designed for connected and automated vehicle research. The Ann Arbor-based facility, dedicated in July, 2015, has been leveraged by its industrial partners almost continuously since its opening.

On its 32-acre site, Mcity simulates urban and suburban environments via a network of roads including intersections, traffic signs and signals, streetlights, building facades, sidewalks and construction obstacles. The test site was designed and developed by U-M’s interdisciplinary Mobility Transformation Center.

“The two test sites will be unrivaled in terms of the resources and capabilities needed to accelerate the research, development and deployment of connected, automated and autonomous vehicles,” said Kerrigan.

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