Automotive and Mobility
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Ann Arbor’s deep engineering talent base and innovative history makes it a natural location for automotive R&D, and the future of mobility technology. This sector includes 100 plus firms and employs 8,200 people Ann Arbor has been a center for automotive research, design, and component manufacture for many years. Ann Arbor’s automotive expertise includes research and development for the North American market, vehicle emissions testing, advanced battery research, and component manufacture. The largest automotive employers are Faurecia Interior Systems, Toyota Technical Center, and Ford Motor Company. In addition, Hyundai, Subaru, and Mercedes Benz established research divisions in the Ann Arbor area.
Ann Arbor - The Future for Automotive and Mobility Research
The future of the automotive technology in Michigan is bright, and the Ann Arbor region continues to be a driver as we move towards a future of mobility. This includes research and testing to pave the way for Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) technology which will revolutionize the transportation of people and goods over the next 5-10 years. Ann Arbor is at the center of the Smart Corridor which was created to test ways for vehicles to communicate with the infrastructure and with other vehicles to prevent many crashes. There is also the connected vehicle safety pilot, which equipped thousands of vehicles with (vehicle-to-vehicle) V2V technology, was conducted by University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and funded in large part by U.S. Department of Transportation.
In 2015, the University of Michigan opened Mcity, a unique space that allows for research and development of connected and automated vehicle technology. Occupying 32 acres at the University’s North Campus Research Complex, Mcity simulates the broad range of complexities vehicles encounter in urban and suburban environments. It includes approximately five lane-miles of roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, sidewalks, benches, simulated buildings, street lights, and obstacles such as construction barriers.
The region is poised to add another significant piece of the mobility landscape, the American Center for Mobility. The 335-acre Willow Run site, where B-24 bombers were made during World War II in a factory built by Henry Ford, will become a national-scale advanced automotive testing and product development center that can accommodate the broad needs of industry and government, test various weather conditions including ice and snow, and provide room to grow and adapt as technology dictates.
The Ypsilanti Township-based connected vehicle research center will be a place where precautionary testing is done before vehicles are deployed on the road and a proving ground for collaborative safety technology demonstrations. It will also serve as a high technology research and development facility that will allow companies to lease space for office and research use, garages, and other amenities, ultimately expanding the region's business incubation and acceleration capabilities around automotive technology.
The American Center for Mobility is a joint initiative among the State of Michigan – including the Michigan Department of Transportation and Michigan Economic Development Corp., the University of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan and Ann Arbor SPARK. The board of directors is comprised of representatives from U-M, Business Leaders for Michigan and SPARK, which initiated the project and will play a key role in economic development tied to the center.
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