Microsoft joins Michigan’s leading automated-vehicle research effort

Nicholas Nerbonne

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Grand Opening of American Center for Mobility marks watershed for state’s mobility initiative; world-leading tech company joins growing list of supporting global companies

Microsoft and American Center for Mobility will collaborate to design a cloud-based data management and analytics platform solution to collect, store and analyze data from automated vehicle testing conducted at the Willow Run facility.

The announcement of Microsoft providing a data infrastructure to support mobility technologies was among the highlights at Tuesday's grand opening celebration of ACM, attended by Gov. Rick Snyder and leaders from business, government and academia. 

“Intelligent vehicle technology is evolving rapidly and Michigan is the world leader in making sure the mobility technologies driving the future are safely developed, tested and eventually deployed,” said Snyder said. 

“This important partnership with Microsoft will provide the American Center for Mobility with the proper digital capabilities to help translate testing data into technology innovations that will make transportation safer for all and fuel further economic growth across the state,” he said.

Microsoft joins a growing list of global companies supporting ACM, including AT&T, Visteon Corporation, Toyota, Ford, and Hyundai America Technical Center Inc. Supporters of ACM include Subaru of America Inc. and Adient. Microsoft will also hold a position on ACM's Industry Advisory Board (IAB).

“Today’s vehicles already have an impressive level of sophistication when it comes to their ability to capture data,” said Kevin Dallas, corporate vice president, Microsoft. “By applying our global cloud infrastructure, robust security measures and analytics solutions to that data, we can accelerate the work already being done at ACM to make autonomous vehicles safer.”

The cloud-based solution will be based on Microsoft Azure, which is designed as a secure and supportive foundation that offers extensive capabilities for quickly developing and deploying new use cases. Leveraging Microsoft Azure and cloud-based solutions enables ACM and its partners to accelerate the development of CAV technologies, apps and industry standards, to create a safe environment for testing, validating, and enabling collaboration across all members.

“By growing our diverse group of stakeholders and world-class partners, ACM is staking its claim as the preeminent global hub for mobility companies to test their connected technologies and vehicles in a safe and controlled environment,” said ACM President/CEO John Maddox.

Tuesday’s Microsoft announcement and grand opening celebration coincide with ACM’s next construction phase that adds an urban intersection by this summer, followed by a series of building facades and urbanized infrastructure expected by the end of the year. The expansion project includes a headquarters and lab with demonstration space.


Located on a 500-acre site that once housed a World War II bomber plant, ACM opened for testing in December. One of 10 federally designated proving grounds for developing and testing self-driving vehicles, ACM provides a myriad of real-world environments with the ability to test under a range of driving environments and infrastructure that includes a 2.5-mile highway loop, a 700-foot curved tunnel, two double overpasses, intersections and roundabouts.

ACM is a joint initiative with State of Michigan, founded in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the University of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan, Ann Arbor SPARK and Ypsilanti Township.

ACM is part of PlanetM, a collaboration that represents Michigan’s unique and vast ecosystem, connecting resources and opportunities for its consortium of members. Made up of private industry, government and institutions of higher learning, partners in PlanetM share the common goal of leading the development of smart solutions that will change the way people and goods are transported across all modes of transportation.

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