UMTRI was founded in 1965 with a $10M grant from Ford, GM, and the Automobile Manufacturers Association. At that time over 50,000 people were dying in traffic events annual in the U.S. alone. Originally called the Highway Safety Research Institute, its founding mission was to analyze the elements of the complex and dynamic system of people, automotive vehicles and the environments in which they operate, and to develop practical and effective solutions to urgent problems of highway safety within that system.
From the beginning, researchers were encouraged to be bold, courageous, and seek collaborations across the university. Robert Hess, UMTRI’s founding director once said “you find the very best people to lead in each discipline and then you get out of their way.”
In July 2019, UMTRI joined forces with Michigan Engineering, one of the nation’s premier engineering colleges. This merger forged two key players in advanced transportation and mobility research, to more effectively move the sector into the 21st century in ways that are safe, equitable, and efficient. This move has allowed us to bring together complementary strengths, combining expertise in transportation technology, biosciences, human factors and data science, as well as the social and behavioral sciences. It also gave UMTRI researchers greater access to a wide range of engineering resources including labs, faculty and in particular, students.
At UMTRI we are focused on multidisciplinary research to advance safe, equitable, and efficient transportation and mobility. And we are using our expertise, our passion, and 55 years of history to become the world’s foremost organization focusing on multidisciplinary transportation safety and mobility. Sustaining global leadership in transportation safety and mobility research is paramount. Whether we are deploying connected and automated vehicles, researching cutting edge mobility solutions for all, or we are influencing polices and regulations that will reduce crashes and save thousands of lives around the world.