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Mobility at Michigan

The University of Michigan is bringing together transportation and mobility expertise across campus and beyond to chart a path for continued U.S. leadership and build a future that’s safe, equitable, sustainable and secure.

Research 2018-2023

$601M+

Startups 2014-2023

20

RESEARCHERS

120+

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EQUITABLE

Lack of reliable transportation hampers access to jobs, healthcare, school, food and more, contributing to today’s unprecedented income disparities. We’re developing solutions that are affordable, available and accessible to everyone—including the elderly and those with disabilities.

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SECURE

Mobility technologies and systems underpin U.S. prosperity at home and defense abroad. Amid today’s geopolitical instability, the nation must maintain leadership. We’re advancing autonomy, human-autonomy teaming, modeling and simulation, and onshoring of key supply chains.

SAFE

Injuries and deaths on U.S. roads remain high. To reduce them, we’re working on vehicle-to-everything (V2X) connectivity and autonomy, plus vehicle and infrastructure design that considers pedestrians and cyclists in addition to vehicle occupants.

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SUSTAINABLE

Transportation contributes 27% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions—it’s a critical sector to decarbonize. Our multi-pronged approach includes EVs, low-carbon fuels, recyclability and connectivity, and we’re exploring social aspects of technology adoption and transportation systems.

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The University of Michigan Solar Car Team's vehicle Astrum rests at the team's campsite at the end of day 4 of the 2023 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

Our Vision

Mobility drives a thriving society. It upholds individual quality of life, a strong economy and a secure nation. But we’re at a turning point in transportation that rivals the dawn of the affordable automobile, built in Michigan more than 100 years ago. The technologies and systems that served us for decades must evolve to address today’s urgent challenges like climate change, societal disparities, roadway injuries and deaths, and global conflicts.

The Mobility at Michigan initiative brings together researchers and educators from across U-M and beyond to reimagine the future of transportation. It was launched in 2023 by five Michigan Engineering mobility organizations that together possess 160 years of national leadership.

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Mobility at Michigan’s goals

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Facilitate a broad-based, integrated approach to solving today’s complex transportation challenges and building a future that’s safe, equitable, sustainable and secure.

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Latest News

City street at night, lit by streetlights and a theater marquee

FEBRUARY 20, 2024

Improving traffic signal timing with a handful of connected vehicles

Communities could reduce costs and cut vehicle emissions—all in the name of shortening your trip.

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Two male students sit in a military utility vehicle simulator wearing virtual reality goggles and holding control sticks.

JANUARY 25, 2024

Off-road autonomy: Automotive Research Center funded with $100 million through 2028

As automakers explore self-driving cars, the Army-funded center will figure out how to take the tech off-road through computer modeling and simulation.

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During an autonomous vehicle test at M city, a mannequin that represents a child on a riding toy is situated in the street in a crosswalk as a May Mobility AV approaches. In the background are the mock building facades of M city's downtown.

NOVEMBER 27, 2023

Automated shuttle planned for Detroit starts safety testing at Mcity

The University of Michigan, May Mobility and the City of Detroit look to boost public trust in self-driving vehicle technology.

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Wires hang from above and an industrial metal tube just bigger than an adult arm juts out from the left in this image of mechanical engineering professor Andre Boehman working on a heavy duty single cylinder engine in the University of Michigan's Auto Lab. Boehman wears a blue U-M polo shirt and protective goggles.

SEPTEMBER 5, 2023

Reimagining the auto lab

Researchers in the Walter E. Lay Automotive Engineering Laboratory are investigating engine efficiency, alternative and low carbon fuels, connected and autonomous vehicles and vehicle electrification.

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Founding Organizations

An aerial view of the Mcity test facility's roundabout that features a giant University of Michigan maize-colored block M on a blue background in the center. A vehicle navigates the roundabout. In the background, patches of green grass represent medians and a city square outside Mcity's mock downtown.

Mcity

With a next-generation proving ground for connected and automated vehicles, an AI data engine and mixed-reality, remote testing capabilities, Mcity is enabling the safe rollout of emerging mobility solutions. Beyond facilities and tools, the interdisciplinary public-private partnership offers student programs, funds research and belongs to the Accessible Mobility Collaborative. Founded in 2013, its test facility was the world’s first purpose-built proving ground for connected and automated vehicles.

A mannequin in a wheelchair on a piece of impact testing equipment.

U-M Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI)

Transportation safety practices and policies around the globe are informed by UMTRI’s research. For 60 years, it has led in crash and driving data analysis, driver behavior, injury biomechanics and ergonomics, occupant restraint systems and traffic modeling. Today it operates the Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment, which has amassed the world’s largest set of vehicle-to-vehicle (V3V) data from 2.5 million hours of real-world driving. Founded in 1965, UMTRI’s primary funders are the federal and state governments.

Electric Vehicle Center (EVC)

Guided by an industry-driven roadmap, the EV Center aims to accelerate electric vehicle technology, education, and workforce development to meet needs in Michigan and beyond. Its soon-to-be-expanded Battery Lab was the nation’s first university-based pilot line in 2015 and is the only one in the heart of the auto industry. The EVC was founded in 2022 with $130 million from the state of Michigan.

Side view of a khaki-colored military ATV in the desert on a partially cloudy day. Its front tire kicks up a puff of dust as it offroads down a rocky hill.

Automotive Research Center (ARC)

As a US Army Center of Excellence, ARC develops cutting-edge modeling and simulation tools to advance autonomous ground vehicle systems for the military and commercial sectors. It brings together researchers in engineering, machine learning, human factors, psychology and beyond from 14 universities, four government agencies and 34 industry partners. Founded in 1994, ARC was renewed in 2024 for five years and up to $100 million.

Lay Auto Lab

Improving car and truck propulsion technologies is the primary focus of the Walter E. Lay Automotive Engineering Lab. In its 19 specialized test bays, researchers study engine efficiency, hybrid powertrains, low-carbon fuels, battery diagnostics, emissions and more. While the lab opened in 1957, its roots can be traced to the early 1900s. A renovation will soon expand its battery capabilities for EV, grid, building and micro-mobility applications.

2024

From research lab to roads

U-M startup May Mobility launches its first driverless shuttle service on public roads in Arizona, garnering a spot on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list.

2023

Driving EV tech and talent

The state of Michigan invests $130M to establish the U-M Electric Vehicle Center to accelerate EV innovation, education and workforce development.

2023

Advancing active safety 

Based on UMTRI research, GM makes 5 active safety features standard on most 2023 vehicles. This includes systems that reduce crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists.

2022

Global security standards

NATO relies on ARC research to update its standard on modeling and simulation of autonomous ground vehicles for its 32 member nations.

2018

Driverless shuttle springboard

Mcity’s Driverless Shuttle becomes the nation’s first AV shuttle research project on user behavior. It led to partnerships with May Mobility on trial deployments in Ann Arbor and Detroit.

2015

First-of-its-kind AV test track

Mcity’s test facility opens as the world’s first purpose-built proving ground for testing the performance and safety of connected and automated vehicles.

2015

‘Open innovation’ Battery Lab

U-M establishes the nation’s first university-based pilot line, an IP-protected environment for industry and academic researchers to prototype, test and scale up battery technologies.

2013

Improving prototype design

ARC design optimization work leads to start-up RAMDO Solutions, whose software improves simulations for military and commercial clients, reducing model error by up to 98%.

2012

World’s largest connectivity pilot 

2,800 drivers traveled 71M miles in the world’s first large-scale connected vehicle deployment. UMTRI’s Safety Pilot showed connected vehicles can reduce unimpaired crashes by 80%.

1989

Improving engine efficiency

A Lay Auto Lab partnership with GM supported its development of direct injection spark ignition engine technology, which boosted fuel economy by 25% and reduced carbon emissions. 

1985

Crash test dummy designs

UMTRI publishes a landmark study of driver body shape and posture, “Anthropometry of motor vehicle occupants.” It still provides the design basis for adult-sized crash test dummies.

1980s

Child safety seat standards

The LATCH system for child safety seat installation is born out of UMTRI’s work on occupant restraint.

1970

Measuring emissions

Lay Auto Lab researchers conducted pivotal investigations into fuel efficiency and vehicle emissions.

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