U. of Mich donates wireless vehicle tech to local campus fleet

Posted on March 2, 2015

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute [UMTRI] has partnered with Washtenaw Community College [WCC] by donating dedicated short-range communication technology [DSRC] for two of the college's fleet vehicles.

The DSRC technology will allow the WCC vehicle to communicate with other vehicles and help provide vital data for the Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment. The technology is wireless and submits information to transceivers located on the state and city's traffic infrastructure equipment within the test environment area.

The assembled data will reflect how drivers behave and what they encounter when behind the wheel. The data will then be used to estimate the safety benefits of a connected car.

"The deployment of connected and automated vehicles requires a wide range of technical knowledge, and will soon offer employment opportunities in a variety of areas," said Dr. James Sayer, Research Scientist at UMTRI.

By using DSRC technology – cars remove the human element from tasks associated with driving such as sensing, monitoring or control processing. Cars will be able to wirelessly communicate with other cars, traffic lights and other roadside devices. A connected vehicle can assess where there are traffic tie-ups, icy roads, disabled vehicles or lane closures. Additionally, the technology provides warnings to prevent collisions.

"We want to be sure WCC students have access to the sophisticated technology inherent in connected technologies," said WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca. "This partnership with UMTRI will also help us develop curricula to shape certificate and degree programs to train our students to meet the job demands associated with connected and automated mobility. We strive to be forward-thinking in our workforce development efforts and provide programs that engage and challenge our students. It's imperative WCC students hold the specialized and emerging skill sets necessary for both today's jobs, and the workplace of the future."

"Washtenaw Community College is preparing to address one of the most important challenges facing a national deployment of connected vehicle technology: qualified, job ready employees who are trained in the latest intelligent transportation systems," said Dr. Peter Sweatman, Director, UMTRI and Michigan Mobility Transformation Center. "Located within a mile of the largest connected vehicle deployment test bed in the world, WCC faculty and students will benefit from the test sites, the experts and the technology that will play a part in transforming our current transportation system as well as playing a critical role in the revitalization of the economy of the state of Michigan."

Plans call for WCC to add additional technologies to the vehicles – such as software designed to track a driver's state of attention and additional sensors and systems to transfer data in real time. Involved in the project will be WCC faculty members in the departments of business and computer technologies, advanced technologies and public service and automotive service technology.

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