Leadership appointments announced in MTC and UMTRI


Peter Sweatman, director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and the Mobility Transformation Center, two interdisciplinary units of the U-M Office of Research, has been appointed full-time as director of MTC. At the same time, Carol Flannagan, associate research scientist at UMTRI, has been appointed interim director of UMTRI. 

Peter Sweatman

Both appointments are effective Sept. 1.

“Launched in 2013, the MTC now has partnerships with nearly 50 companies as well as federal, state and local government. It also just opened Mcity, the world’s first test environment designed expressly to evaluate the safety and performance of connected, automated, and autonomous vehicles,” said S. Jack Hu, interim vice president for research. “With the unit now fully operational, it requires Dr. Sweatman’s full attention as it moves forward on its ambitious plans for further growth and development.”

Flannagan is associate research scientist in UMTRI’s Biosciences Group and co-director of its Center for the Management of Information for Safe and Sustainable Transportation. She joined UMTRI in 1991 after completing her Ph.D. in mathematical and experimental psychology at U-M. Her research interests include ergonomics in automotive design and crash database analysis. She has performed extensive analyses of various crash databases to identify injury patterns and trends and to identify predictors of injuries in different types of crashes. In addition, she often provides statistical advice to other UMTRI divisions.

Carol Flannagan

“With her strong research background, and her clear grasp of the mission of UMTRI and its unique position among U-M interdisciplinary units, I believe that Carol Flannagan is the right person to guide us through the period of transition as we search for a new director,” Hu said. “I look forward to working with her in coming months.”

A national search is under way under way to find a permanent director for UMTRI, and Hu expects the process to be complete by the end of the current calendar year.

An international authority on transportation research and development with a specialty in heavy-vehicle-infrastructure interaction, Sweatman came to UMTRI as director in 2004. He has become widely recognized as a leader in intelligent vehicle systems (ITS), working closely with government and industry in this emerging field.

In 2010, he was appointed to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s ITS Advisory Committee, and he currently serves on the ITS America Board of Directors. He played a key role in bringing the landmark Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Model Deployment to UMTRI. This $31 million program was funded by U.S. DOT to test the viability of connected technology by equipping nearly 3,000 private vehicles in Ann Arbor — along with selected intersections, curves, and freeway sites — with devices that collected data that can be used to alert drivers to potentially dangerous situations. 

“Peter has demonstrated exceptional leadership in overseeing UMTRI and in guiding the development of the MTC,” Hu said. “His stature in the field of connected and automated vehicles as well as his strong vision for a safer, greener future for mobility will serve the university well as we take the MTC to the next level.”

MTC is a research and development partnership that is working with an array of corporate, government, and academic institutions — as well as faculty from disciplines across campus — to lay the foundations for a commercially viable ecosystem of connected and automated vehicles. Such a system holds the potential to reduce crashes by as much as 80 percent, while slashing fuel consumption, dramatically cutting carbon emissions, reducing congestion and improving access to transportation.

Now celebrating its 50th year, UMTRI is dedicated to achieving safe and sustainable transportation for a global society. It has developed an international reputation for its interdisciplinary research on motor-vehicle safety and injury biomechanics.

In collaborations with researchers across campus as well as with government, industry, and other academic institutions, it has carried out more than 1,000 short- and long-term projects in broad areas involving accident data collection and traffic safety analysis, bioengineering, human factors, mechanical engineering, psychology, economics, and public policy. UMTRI is a key partner in the MTC.


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