From AA Spark: Lawmakers Announce $7.5 Million Federal Grant for Michigan’s Mobility Ecosystem

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI) and Debbie Stabenow (MI) and U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (MI-12) today announced a $7.5 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for partnership between the City of Detroit, the State of Michigan, the University of Michigan, and the American Center for Mobility (ACM). The funding will go towards the research, development and testing of self-driving technologies in both the world-class facilities at the University of Michigan’s Mcity, ACM and in the City of Detroit.

“I was proud to help secure this federal grant that will support the groundbreaking work and collaboration taking place in Michigan that will transform the way we get around in the future,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “This investment will help keep Michigan at the forefront of mobility, and ensure our state remains the global leader in developing self-driving innovations and building the vehicles of the future.”

“This critical funding from USDOT is further proof that Michigan continues to be the home of the global auto industry and advanced mobility technologies,” said Dingell. “Michigan’s unique automotive and mobility ecosystem is unparalleled and does not exist elsewhere in the country.  Self-driving cars are the future of the auto industry and they represent an opportunity to improve and diversify our economy here in Michigan, while also improving safety.

This grant was a success because major stakeholders partnered together under the umbrella of the Michigan Mobility Collaborative to demonstrate our ability to work with together in developing these technologies responsibly and proving they are safe.  The American Center for Mobility at Willow Run, the City of Detroit, MDOT, MEDC and their partners in industry deserve credit for their hard work that led to this significant award.  I also want to thank my colleagues Senator Peters and Senator Stabenow for being great partners with me during this effort. As we watch the transportation industry and the auto industry transform into the mobility industry, this grant will go a long way towards creating jobs in Michigan and cementing our role as the global center of these revolutionary technologies.”

Peters, Stabenow and Dingell supported the Michigan Mobility Collaborative’s grant application along with other members of the Michigan congressional delegation writing a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. The group collaborating in this effort include: the American Center for Mobility, the Michigan Department of Transportation; the cities of Detroit, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids; the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute and Mcity; Wayne State University; Deloitte; and Ford Motor Company’s “City: One” program. The Michigan Mobility Collaborative will develop a process to evaluate the safety of automated driving systems from simulation to test tracks to real world testing on Detroit streets. It will also focus on future services and business models around autonomous vehicles that improve the quality of life for the senior population in Detroit and cities across Michigan.

The American Center for Mobility (ACM) is a smart city test center focused on the advanced and scientific research, testing, validation and self-certification of connected and automated vehicles and other mobility technologies at the more than 500-acre historic Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township. Ann Arbor SPARK promotes ACM as part of its efforts to drive economic prosperity in the region by attracting global brands and world-class talent here.

“The mobility industry as a whole is a key area of focus for Ann Arbor SPARK,” said president and CEO Paul Krutko. “The talent that’s here along with the industry heavyweights who have long had a presence in our region are incredibly attractive to businesses that are researching, developing, and manufacturing the next generation of transportation.  This investment not only validates the value of the work being done at ACM, it proves there’s no better place for this work to be done successfully. When SPARK issued the white paper ‘Ahead by a Century’ in 2012 calling for a connected and autonomous testing facility of this type in our region and led the effort to redevelop the Willow Run transmission plant as the site for ACM, this is just the type of success we envisioned.”

Peters successfully urged the Department of Transportation under the Obama Administration to designate ACM as a premiere center for the safe testing, demonstration and deployment of automated vehicle technology. Peters, Stabenow and Dingell have worked to raise ACM’s profile as a world-class smart city test center and pushed for the Department of Transportation and other federal agencies to recognize the role ACM plays in promoting the collaboration needed to develop connected and autonomous vehicles, and smart city solutions. Peters, Stabenow and Dingell worked together to help secure $100 million in funding from Congress for AV research and development including $60 million for R&D projects – with $20 million specifically set aside for previously designated proving grounds including ACM. That funding source made the grant announced today possible.

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