The University of Michigan’s Automotive Research Center (ARC) has recently secured a new five-year agreement worth up to $100 million from the U.S. Army. This deal marks a significant increase in the federal government’s investment in autonomous vehicle technologies, potentially doubling the funding since 2019.
Established in 1994, the ARC has become a pivotal source of technology and innovation, particularly in modeling and simulation for the Army’s extensive vehicle fleet. The center’s work has been instrumental in advancing the Army’s capabilities in this field. “We are driving the development of modern mobility systems with our advanced modeling and simulation methods,” stated ARC Director Bogdan Epureanu.
A critical aspect highlighted by Epureanu is the prohibitive cost and time required for physical experimentation in data collection. He emphasized that the data needed for autonomous operation in various scenarios is vastly greater than that for urban settings. This challenge is met by ARC’s cutting-edge modeling and simulation approaches.
The ARC comprises a 14-member consortium including 84 faculty members, 34 industry partners, and four government agencies, creating a robust ecosystem for research and innovation. U.S. Sen. Gary Peters lauded the center, stating, “The University of Michigan’s Automotive Research Center provides invaluable research and partnership to the U.S. Army.”
Originally focusing on energy and powertrain issues, ARC’s research has led to significant advancements in vehicle design, engine performance, and safety technologies. These have applications beyond the military, influencing civilian vehicle safety and design.
In recent years, the focus has shifted towards autonomous technologies, a field of growing importance in both military and civilian sectors. “The ARC is the Army’s Center of Excellence in Modeling and Simulation,” said David Gorsich, Army chief scientist for ground vehicles. He underlined the significance of ARC’s research in developing advanced digital engineering tools, enhancing the design and development of modern, efficient, and reliable vehicle systems.
The ARC’s collaboration extends to various fields including engineering, machine learning, human factors, and social behavior. This interdisciplinary approach is aligned with the University of Michigan’s mission to explore the future of mobility. The consortium includes prestigious institutions like the University of Iowa, Wayne State University, and Virginia Tech, among others, fostering a broad spectrum of expertise and innovation.