ANN ARBOR—Eleven companies are investing a total of $11 million in the second phase of industry funding for Mcity, the University of Michigan-led public-private R&D initiative leading the transformation to connected and automated mobility.
Industry's continuing interest reflects Mcity's success in building an ecosystem of companies committed to the center's mission to accelerate the development and implementation of connected and automated vehicles to improve traffic safety, conserve energy, and increase accessibility to transportation, said Mcity director Huei Peng, the Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering at U-M.
"Launching Mcity was in itself a grand experiment," he said. "How might companies representing such a broad range of industries, including many who compete with each other, be able to effectively work together?
"The experiment has proven to be a very successful model where these companies have been able to work collaboratively and productively to explore questions about connected and automated vehicles that no single company or industry can address alone."
As members of Mcity's Leadership Circle, the companies are each committing a total of $1 million over three years to support Mcity and its programs. The center expects to add a few more Leadership Circle members in coming months. A broader range of companies engages in the work of the center as affiliate members.
"Mcity has quickly risen to be one of Michigan's strongest assets and a national leader in autonomous vehicle research and development," said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. "The state of Michigan clearly sees the value in having the facility and research in our mobility ecosystem, but the private sector is continuing to show support and interest in the advancements that come from the facility, as well. I congratulate Mcity on their continued partnerships and outstanding success."
Mcity Leadership Circle companies span such sectors as auto manufacturing, suppliers, ITS, insurance, telecommunications and data management. Together, they identify emerging opportunities as well as the barriers to realizing them, anticipate and help shape key standards and regulations, and help guide the direction of Mcity-funded research.
"State Farm is proud to continue as a member of the Mcity Leadership Circle," said Chris Mullen, director of technology research at State Farm. "Our leadership position with Mcity gives us early access to the latest data and research findings as the connected and automated ecosystem evolves, so that we can better understand the potential benefits and risks of connected and automated vehicles. We are also able to encourage research direction that will be most useful to our customers and our business."
The new funding comes as Mcity has established itself as a leading voice in connected and automated mobility. Bringing together industry, government and academia, Mcity is the only advanced mobility R&D center that combines early-stage research; testing in the state-of-the-art, real-world environment of the Mcity Test Facility; and on-road vehicle deployments to further prove new technologies.
"The breadth and depth of membership in the Leadership Circle speaks volumes about Mcity's important work," said Jong Kim, senior vice president in the office of the chief technology officer at LG Electronics. "From LG's perspective, Mcity represents the epicenter of innovation and public policy defining the future of connected transportation."
To date, Mcity has invested about $20 million in 40 research projects. The total investment at Mcity and the U-M Transportation Research Institute in connected and automated vehicle research, development and deployment activities will exceed $100 million by 2020, with funding from U-M, government agencies and industry.
In addition, dozens of faculty and hundreds of students are engaged in work to advance mobility. New capabilities have recently been added to the Mcity Test Facility, including a Traffic Control Center with augmented reality testing capability, and connectivity between vehicles and the traffic infrastructure.
A small fleet of research vehicles based at Mcity includes a 15-passenger driverless shuttle and two open-source connected and automated vehicles, which are platforms to help U-M faculty and researchers speed technology innovation. Mcity is also preparing to launch a driverless shuttle on U-M's North Campus.
Companies investing in second phase funding as members of Mcity's Leadership Circle are:
- Delphi Automotive PLC
- DENSO Corp.
- Econolite Group Inc.
- Ford Motor Co.
- General Motors Co.
- Honda Motor Co.
- Intel Corp.
- LG Electronics
- State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
- Toyota Motor Corp.
- Verizon Communications Inc.