Every year motor vehicle crashes claim thousands of lives. In fact in the U.S. motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death of people under 35 years old. Last year alone there were over 30,000 fatalities. Our current transportation system is responsible for $240 billion per-year cost in terms of medical and work loss. Connected vehicles, similar to what we have deployed in Ann Arbor, Michigan could reduce up to 80% of unimpaired crashes.
The University of Michigan, along with our partners in government and industry, has made significant investments in the advancement of intelligent transportation, including connected and automated vehicle technologies. In 2012, we were the test conductor site for the U.S. DOT funded Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Model Deployment, the largest connected vehicle pilot in the world. Over three years this research project generated over 120 billion basic safety messages, representing more than 35 million miles driven, and 5 million trips. The Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment will take us from “research” to “real world deployment.” Ann Arbor will be the world’s first example of how connected vehicle and infrastructure technology can and will be utilized in a community of the future.
In addition, we recently opened Mcity, another first of its kind. Operated by the U-M Mobility Transformation Center, Mcity is the world's first controlled environment designed specifically to test the potential of connected and automated vehicle technologies that will lead the way to mass-market driverless cars.
I believe that the transformation to a connected and automated mobility system will be a game changer for safety, for efficiency, for energy, and for accessibility. The work we are doing at the U-M will open the door to 21st century mobility.
James Sayer, Ph.D., is a Research Scientist and Head of the Human Factors Group at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.