Ann Arbor, and Michigan, continue to be at the center of automotive technology. As the home of technical centers for numerous transportation companies, and the heart of R&D research and technology, Ann Arbor has always been a driving force around automotive technology.
The future of the automotive technology is bright, and the Ann Arbor region continues to be a driver as we move towards a future of mobility. Over the past several years, our region has been involved in a connected vehicle safety pilot, which deployed thousands of connected vehicles on the streets of Ann Arbor; and the opening of Mcity, a unique space at the University of Michigan that allows for research and development of connected and automated vehicle technology. Now, our region is poised to add another significant piece of the mobility landscape in the United States.
Since the release of “Ahead by a Century: The Future of Automotive Technology” in 2013, Ann Arbor SPARK has worked to develop Willow Run, a historic 335 acre site in Ypsilanti Township, into the American Center for Mobility. Working with partners from around the state, and with the assistance of a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the former manufacturing site can serve as a national center for connected and automated vehicle (CAV) research, testing, product development, validation and certification facility. It will be used by government, industry and academia to develop new products and validate new technologies.
As we’ve found through our research, Willow Run is a cost effective location for this type of activity, with numerous structures already in place, including double overpasses, which will serve as the perfect environment for researching and testing mobility technologies. We are excited to continue working with partners at the MEDC, University of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan, Walbridge, CAR, elected officials, industry leaders, MichAuto and others to ensure the future of Michigan leadership in mobility.