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Michigan Mobility Transformation Center Q&A

What’s the problem?
Transportation systems that move people, goods, and services in societies worldwide pose unprecedented environmental, economic, and social challenges, particularly with the growing urgency to avoid crashes, relieve the congestion of urban centers, to cut back on carbon emissions and pollution, to conserve resources, and to maximize accessibility to growing populations.

What’s the solution?
A host of advances in such areas as connected and automated vehicle systems, multi-modal transportation, traffic performance management, fractional vehicle use, as well as in new fuels, novel engine design, alternative energy sources, and advanced materials, offer great promise to address the challenges and, in the process, to truly revolutionize mobility in societies worldwide. Individually, none of these advances will have the impact needed; we must look at our mobility system as a whole.

What does U-M propose to do?
Work with industry and government to design and demonstrate, by 2020, a mobility system that blends the latest thinking on connected transportation systems, autonomous vehicle design, and other technologies with economic, social, and policy considerations. Special efforts will be made to seek input from across the nation and around the world to ensure that the system approach and the lessons learned are scalable and adaptable.

With these changes, what could mobility look like in the future?
Taking a systems approach to mobility would mean that vehicles and infrastructure would communicate to avoid imminent safety hazards, minimize congestion and maximize traffic flow across entire regions, help enable driverless and shared vehicles, and allow individuals to coordinate seamlessly with other modes of transportation including, buses, trains, bicycles, and walking. It would have major implications for urban planning, vehicle design and manufacturing, user accessibility to goods and services, and the ease and efficiency of moving people and goods from place to place.

What are the potential benefits of this approach?

  • Motor vehicle fatalities and injuries reduced by a factor of 10.
  • Energy consumption moving people and goods reduced by a factor of 10.
  • Carbon emissions from the transportation system reduced by a factor of 10.
  • New transportation economy startups increased by a factor of 10.
  • System user time reduced by a factor of 2.
  • Freight transportation costs reduced by a factor of 3.
  • Use of infrastructure capacity increased by a factor of 5.
  • Need for parking reduced by a factor of 5.
  • Physical proximity to transportation enhanced by as much as a factor of 2.
  • Land use for mobility, including parking, reduced by a factor of 2.

What are the barriers to progress?
Researchers around the world are making considerable progress in these areas, but there is little work on how to integrate the technical, economic, social, and policy considerations to create a viable mobility “system” that meets the dynamic needs of a changing society.

Why U-M?

  • Expertise in the full range of disciplines—ranging through engineering, urban planning, social analysis, and policy—required to address the full complexity of considerations needed to develop and implement realistic solutions.
  • Culture of cross-disciplinary work.
  • Working relationships with the global automobile industry, as well as with other industries that will be involved in the development of such a system.
  • A strong base of industry and federally funded research already underway in related areas across the university.
  • The world’s largest on-road test bed for connected vehicle systems, installed on the streets of Ann Arbor.
  • Endorsement and involvement from the state, Business Leaders for Michigan, and others.
  • Institutional commitment.
  • Location in the global center of automobile R&D.

How is U-M going to do this?
U-M is launching the Michigan Mobility Transportation Center to coordinate work of faculty and students across disciplines as well as with industry and government to achieve its goal.

Who are U-M’s partners?
A wide range of organizations and institutions see the potential of this approach and will play a key role in making it happen. They include vehicle manufacturers and suppliers; IT and telecommunications companies; an ecosystem of large and small enterprises in ITS, hardware and software companies involved in data management, analysis, and transmission, federal agencies; state agencies; universities; economic development groups; and others.

How are we going to pay for it?
In addition to internal investment, this effort will build on the on-going base of work at U-M to solicit further federal, state, and industry support. We intend to form a broad and open industry coalition to collaborate and invest in a demonstration of 21st Century Mobility in Ann Arbor.

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