Toyota Strikes Deal with UMTRI On Autonomous Vehicle Research

Posted by at 5:02 pm on April 17, 2016


Toyota and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) have announced a partnership which will allow everyday vehicles in Ann Arbor to be used for connected and autonomous vehicle research.

The partnership aims to help the newly launched Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment (AACVTE) deploy 5,000 vehicles in the area that are equipped with a vehicle awareness device that will transmit speed and positioning data to other vehicles that are equipped with the same device as well as the surrounding environment where research equipment will be located on the roadside and at intersections.

The AACVTE implements CAV technologies in real-world situations that everyday drivers experience.

The device will help both U-M and Toyota gain a better understanding of the everyday driving habits of users and how they can improve on safety and features in CAVs.

“Ann Arbor is an international hub for connected vehicle technology and research, and it
has everything to do with the community. Toyota is again demonstrating their
commitment to the community by their investment in the recently announced TRI, and
by encouraging employees to participate in cutting edge research,” said James R.
Sayer, director of the UMTRI, in a press release.

Because there is very limited supply of connected vehicles on the market, the vast majority of research is conducted on closed circuit test tracks or specialized facilities such as MCity. By equipping vehicles with awareness devices, the research can expand to an even more realistic setting.

The vehicle awareness device will be installed in the trunk or rear of the vehicle along a piece near the trunk lid or on the roof. Toyota team members and their families will have the ability to participate in the AACVTE.

“We are thrilled to help UMTRI expand vehicle-to-vehicle testing well beyond the test track and on to the streets of Ann Arbor,” said Wayne Powell, Toyota Technical center vice president.

Participation in the AACVTE is not exclusive to Toyota team members and their families, however.

Data transmitted from the vehicles will be uniquely identified, but will be kept confidential.

According to the release, in 2012 the UMTRI and the U.S. Department of Transportation launched a $30 million connected vehicle research project known as the Safety Pilot Model Deployment. As part of that program, 3,000 vehicles were included in the research that covered an area in the northeast portion of the city.

That program is now expanded and known as the AACVTE.

The AACVTE with allow the research to be conducted on the entire 27 square miles of the city. Plans are to add 1,500 vehicles a year to the program.

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