James R. Sayer

Director UMTRI; Research Scientist



2901 Baxter Rd. Rm 158

Ann Arbor, MI 48109


(734) 764-4159

fax: 734-936-1081

Primary Website

Dr. Sayer’s Website



Research Interests

Dr. Jim Sayer is Director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.  In addition, he conducts both basic and translational research in the areas of advanced vehicle safety systems, human interaction with highly automated vehicles, connected vehicle and infrastructure technology, naturalistic driving behavior, driver distraction, and pedestrian safety.   He is an internationally recognized leader in the conduct and evaluation of field operational tests of vehicle safety systems, connected vehicle technology, and the study of naturalistic driving behavior.  He also has an appointment as Adjunct Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.


Dr. Sayer was previously the Chair of the University’s Institutional Autonomous System Committee, and has served a variety of roles on the University’s Health and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board, including Chair, Co-Chair, and Full Board member.


Key Projects

Dr. Sayer was the lead architect of the autonomous and connected vehicle test facility known as Mcity (2013 – 2015) having conceived of, designed, and overseen its construction.  He has served as the Principal Investigator of the Ann Arbor Connected Environment (2019 – 2020), the U.S. DOT’s Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment (2015 – 2019), and U.S. DOT’s Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Model Deployment program (2011 – 2015).

Sayer has served as the principal investigator of several large field operational tests or deployments of advanced vehicle technologies, including the Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety System Field Operation Test (IVBSS FOT), the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Model Deployment (Safety Pilot), the Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment (AACVTE), the Ann Arbor Connected Environment (AACE), and currently serve as the PI on the ATTAIN Grant funded “Ann Arbor Connected Environment Reimagined” (AACE 2.0) – a C-V2X-based deployment of connected technology in the City of Ann Arbor.  Cumulatively overseeing more than $83M in sponsored research funding since 2005, and served as the co-principal investigator on several additional field operational tests and deployments – including the current RAISE Grant funded Smart Intersections Project (SIP).  

Student Engagement

Dr. Sayer has worked with and supported more than two dozen post doctoral candidates, master’s students, and undergraduate students at UMTRI since 1993.


St. Clair Shores, MI

Personal Interests/Hobbies

Woodworking, single grain Lowland Scotch whisky

Additional Information

Dr. Sayer’s Website

Google Scholar Account

ORCID: 0000-0001-8180-7604

Scopus ID: 57195268498