If you seek mobility, look around you

MEDC Staff

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

An overview of Michigan's research centers and updates on automotive manufacturers and suppliers working to design, develop, test and manufacture autonomous vehicles

The following is an overview of research centers and updates on automotive manufacturers and suppliers working to design, develop, test and manufacture autonomous vehicles. (NOTE: Portions of this list appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business.)

American Center for Mobility

Construction of the connected and autonomous vehicle test site began in November on the estimated $80 million center, which will offer highway, urban and rural simulations on more than 300 acres at a former General Motors plant at Willow Run. The state-owned facility will build a 2.5-mile highway loop as part of its first phase, which is expected to open in December 2017. The second phase requires additional funding by the federal government.

MCity at University of Michigan

Opened in 2015, UM's MCity was the first major connected vehicle test bed in the state. The $6.5 million facility, developed with MDOT, has replicated an urban driving environment and suburban streetscapes, highways and rural roads. The site has 40 building facades, intersections, a traffic circle, bridge, tunnel, gravel roads and entrance and exit ramps.

Michigan International Speedway

Better known for its NASCAR events, MIS offers automakers, suppliers and researchers a reconfigurable network of tracks to test vehicles, including connected and autonomous vehicles. Its road courses feature elevation changes, natural line-of-sight interferences, garages, skid pad, off-road testing, a tunnel, and intersections.

Michigan Technological University Transportation Institute

The institute’s primary focus is on infrastructure, and the transportation institute at MTU offers research and education in various mobility-focused areas, such as traffic data mining and monitoring.

Continental Automotive Brimley Development Center

Continental Automotive, the Auburn Hills-based subsidiary of Continental AG in Germany, is spearheading the Cruising Chauffeur project, which equips vehicles with semi-autonomous driving capabilities. The supplier tests its technologies, including autonomous tech, at its winter test track in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

I-94 Truck Parking Information and Management System

Installed by the Michigan Department of Transportation in 2014, TIPMS is a system that delivers real-time truck parking availability along the I-94 corridor in southwest Michigan. The project is federally funded by the Federal Highway Administration.

Kettering University General Motors Mobility Research Center

Opened in October 2015, the $7 million research center includes a 3.25-acre test pad and outdoor lab space to test and develop autonomous vehicle systems. The site will use Kettering's private 4G LTE cellular network to enhance testing.

Toyota Research Institute

In May, Toyota opened its third U.S. operation focusing on autonomous vehicles, others are in Cambridge, Mass., and Palo Alto, Calif. The operations are part of a $1 billion program through 2020 on artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous vehicles. Toyota has tested connected and autonomous technology at its technical center in York Township.

Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center Inc.

The automaker's G90 flagship sedan from its new Genesis luxury brand will feature a suite of advanced safety technologies, dubbed Genesis Smart Sense, which bundles adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and technologies to reduce driver fatigue. Standard features also include an automatic emergency braking system with pedestrian detection and active blind-spot detection. Hyundai is expected to be a prime user of the American Center for Mobility in Willow Run for its continued mobility developments.

Robert Bosch LLC Proving Grounds

Bosch, like Continental, has been developing sensors for decades, which now enable autonomous systems. The testing of those technologies locally occurs in Flat Rock.

General Motors Co.

GM acquired driverless car tech firm Cruise Automation for $1 billion, invested $500 million into San Francisco ride-hailing service Lyft, and launched its own car-sharing service, Maven, all last year. Maven is already offering service in metro Detroit to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. In December, GM announced it would begin immediate testing of its autonomous Chevrolet Bolt on Michigan roadways and manufacture those cars at the Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township.

Ford Motor Co.

In 2016, Ford launched its Ford Smart Mobility subsidiary to invest in mobility development. The automaker is also testing semi-autonomous and connected vehicles with Uber in Pittsburgh and soon in Detroit.

Roush Industries Inc.

The engineering and specialty manufacturing company known for its custom Ford Mustang models, assembled Waymo's test fleet of 100 Google prototype vehicles. That vehicle will be unveiled at this week's North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Nissan Technical Center North America Inc.

Renault-Nissan Alliance and Microsoft Corp. signed a global, multi-year agreement in December to partner on connected driving technologies and some of that work is expected to take place in Michigan.

Denso International America Inc.

As part of a federal program, Telegraph Road in Southfield was outfitted with vehicle-to-infrastructure sensors, allowing Denso to test connected vehicle capabilities, such as traffic mitigation and human interaction with connected technologies.

Denso is also opening a new research and development lab at the University of Michigan, where 12 UM students have been selected to participate in advanced research on autonomous driving and driver assistance systems with artificial intelligence.

Southeast Michigan Connected Vehicle Test Bed

As part of MDOT's highway reconstruction efforts, the state agency has installed the largest connected vehicle infrastructure in the nation along highways throughout southeast Michigan. The sensors, connecting vehicles to infrastructure, are along nearly 200 miles of I-94, I-75, I-96 and I-275. The project is expected to continue as more highways see renovation. MDOT's Southeast Michigan Transportation Operations Center in Detroit oversees a traffic monitoring system composed of 400 freeway miles instrumented with closed-circuit cameras, message signs and probe traffic monitors.

Center for Advanced Automotive Technology at Macomb Community College, Warren

Funded by the National Science Foundation, CAAT is a partnership between MCC and Wayne State University designed to offer training, certificates and degrees in automotive electrification, engineering, program management, laboratory services, etc.


The automaker partnered with Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo, nee Google self-driving car project, to develop 100 autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans. It also unveiled its Chrysler Portal Concept electric minivan last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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