M City in Ann Arbor Draws TechLab to Drive Autonomous Vehicle Innovations


A new program called TechLab, founded by the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship, will work to accelerate the success of participating technology startups while offering students internship opportunities at M City, an autonomous driving test facility in Ann Arbor.

“By creating a structure that allows startup companies from around the globe to access top-flight talent and resources that would otherwise be unavailable to them, we believe we have hit upon a model that will create a winning opportunity for all involved,” says Thomas Frank, executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the U-M College of Engineering, which runs TechLab in collaboration with the Mobility Transformation Center’s M City.

Frank says TechLab’s pilot program launches with Zendrive, a San Francisco-based tech startup that has developed software that uses mobile sensors to measure driver safety through actions like acceleration, braking, swerving, and phone use. The software can detect collisions, along with measuring fleet safety and efficiency. The company, founded by former Facebook and Google employees, recently announced $13.5 million in Series A funding.

“Collaborating with U-M allows us to explore what is possible in the future of transportation, as well as apply learning to today’s road safety opportunities, including driving apps, on-demand services, and commercial fleets,” says Jonathan Matus, CEO of Zendrive.

Frank says TechLab is similar to a startup incubator, with an emphasis on student internships.

“We are uniquely positioned to launch this incubator experience around new mobility ideas by leveraging the educational strengths and expertise of the Center for Entrepreneurship and U-M Mobility Transformation Center,” says Volker Sick, associate vice president for research, natural sciences, and engineering at U-M.

To learn more about M City, click here.

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