U-M’s Advanced Transportation Hub Funds Eight Mobility Projects

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor continues to support Michigan-based research projects looking for high-tech solutions to mobility problems.
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U-M awarded more than $700,000 to mobility projects at the university as well as at Western Michigan University. // Stock photo

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor continues to support Michigan-based research projects looking for high-tech solutions to mobility problems.

In its latest funding announcement, the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation at U-M awarded a combined $710,000 to eight high-tech, early stage, mobility projects.

Of those selected from the pool of applicants, seven projects were led by U-M researchers with the other being led by a Western Michigan University researcher. The projects, which did not give names for the solutions, tackle market needs such as increases in efficiency, safety, and the sustainability of transporting people and goods.

The eight projects create or improve mobility solutions through methods such as expanding driver assistance and autonomous driver systems, enabling battery fast-charging with minimal long-term performance degradation, and integrating an artificial intelligence and connected vehicle-based traffic signal-optimization service.

Other projects will enable fuel cell vehicles through the production of low-cost, low-CO2, on-site hydrogen; providing a cleaner alternative to traditional paint through replacing pigments with a process that uses multilayer nanostructures; eliminating battery degradation mode and enabling high specific energy battery designs through a battery separator technology; providing low-cost clean electricity for charging through a high power density solar module; and reducing the cost of lightweight vehicle structures through an extrusion design solution that reduces scrap generation by 25 percent-50 percent.

“The eight projects receiving funding this year through the MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation reflect the diversity of advanced automotive technologies being developed at Michigan’s universities,” says Kelly Sexton, associate vice president for research-technology transfer and innovation partnerships at U-M.

“These technologies hold the potential to fuel our region’s mobility industry in the years to come, and we are grateful to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. for their support of this program.”

After presenting their ideas to an oversight committee composed of transportation experts, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs, the researchers will now receive mentorship support from the committee as well as from U-M Tech Transfer’s staff of mentors-in-residence.

“With its laser focus on commercialization, the U-M Advanced Transportation MTRAC Innovation Hub provides key support to early-stage technologies hoping to make a revolutionary impact on the transportation sector,” says Denise Graves, university relations director at the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation is funded by the Michigan Strategic Fund and administered by the MEDC. It looks to accelerate the development of advanced transportation projects. Through June, the MTRAC hubs have received 423 proposals, funded 183 projects, developed 32 startup companies, licensed 24 technologies to industry partners, and secured more than $122 million in follow-on funding.

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