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UMTRI to equip 9,000 vehicles with V2X technology

The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and the federal and state transportation departments have plans to equip 9,000 cars in Ann Arbor with wireless communication technology; an estimated 10% of the city’s driving population. The cars will send and receive wireless communications with each other and much of the city’s roadside infrastructure, including equipped traffic lights and intersections, as citizens conduct their normal daily driving routines. A small percentage of the vehicles will not only be equipped with the vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology, but also the ability to use the wireless systems to alert the driver to danger or traffic.

UMTRI began the research with roughly 2,800 cars in August 2012 after receiving an 18-month grant from the US Department of Transportation (USDOT). The agency has extended the contract by six months and has promised to renew the safety pilot project for a further three years when the existing agreement expires in September this year. USDOT funded US$28m of the initial US$31m start-up cost of the study, and UMTRI officials expect the federal government to commit between US$10-18m for the project’s next stage. U-M is currently looking for industry funding partners to triple the size of the study by 2016. After that period, UMTRI and the Michigan Department of Transportation are aiming to expand the number of connected cars to 20,000, grow the testing area to all of southeast Michigan and install wireless technology in infrastructure along the region’s major corridors, such as I-94, I-96, M-75 and M-74.

Along with the safety pilot, the university has recently launched a Mobility Transportation Center that will include a US$6.5m connected vehicle test track in northeast Ann Arbor, near its North Campus Research Complex. The new facility will include, building facades, street and traffic lights, replica parking meters and detailed signage that will all be equipped with wireless V2X technology. UMTRI will conduct its own V2V and V2I research and autonomous vehicle testing at the site, and is also hoping that the region’s major auto makers and other automotive equipment developers will test their technology at the facility.

April 23, 2014

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