U-M invests $600,000 in advanced transportation technologies


Seven technologies demonstrating high potential to help solve transportation issues are receiving $600,000 from the University of Michigan’s Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization Statewide Innovation Hub program to continue their advancement into the commercial market.

Five technologies will receive a $100,000 grant while two will receive $50,000 with the opportunity to unlock the remaining $50,000, after certain milestones are reached throughout the year.

“These teams have made the connection between their research and future transportation systems, and are working hard to get their technology to market,” said Eric Petersen, newly appointed U-M MTRAC program director.

“Investing in projects and people will help the state retain leadership in the transportation industry as vehicles become electrified and as autonomous systems are proposed for moving people and goods.”

Projects receiving $100,000 in funding are:

• High-Frequency RADAR for Automotive Autonomous Applications (U-M): A sub-millimeter-wave radar system with superior detection resolutions, wide-scanning range and minimal size, weight and power consumption.

• High-Performance Coatings for Engine Cylinder Bores (Michigan State University): A process to deposit diamond-like coatings onto the inner surface of cylinder bores to reduce friction and resultant fuel consumption.

• Multi-Material 3-D Printing (U-M): A method that integrates electrical assemblies into components through micro-additive manufacturing.

• Variable Coupling Wireless Power Transfer System (U-M): A wireless power transfer system that achieves high efficiency at a wide range of positions and distances between transmitter and receiver.

• Your Own Planner (U-M): An optimal travel planning search engine producing lower costs at minimal effort for given constraints and preferences.

Projects receiving $50,000 in funding are:

• Enhanced Object Recognition LIDARs for Robotics (U-M): A system to complement the distance ranging of LIDARs with fast and accurate object recognition, which will enable LIDAR point clouds to be efficiently translated into object semantics.

• Sensor Fusion and Cognitive Computing Solution for Autonomous Driving (U-M): A reduced computing power system that converts raw sensor inputs into highly compressed “cues” to enhance the accuracy of real-time decision-making tasks such as trajectory prediction and multi-object tracking.

Since 2012, U-M has been running the MTRAC advanced transportation program. Over the course of five years, the program received 47 project proposals, funding 17 of them generating a total of nearly $8 million in follow-on funding. Due to the program’s success, U-M was designated a statewide innovation hub for advanced transportation projects in February 2017.

The advanced transportation innovation hub is part of a statewide initiative, in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Entrepreneur and Innovation initiative, funding translational research and accelerating the creation and transfer of new technologies from institutions of higher education, hospital systems and nonprofit research centers. Technologies can be from research settings to practical real-world applications.

The U-M innovation hub is run jointly with the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Office of Technology Transfer.

“Having this many projects qualify for funding is an incredible sign that the program is working and an excellent representation of the type of intellectual talent we have in our universities across the state,” said Denise Graves, university relations director at MEDC.

“Being able to move transportation technologies from research to market is essential in growing Michigan’s economy. Combining our state’s brainpower with resources like MTRAC is a great example of providing commercial focus to research projects that can be translated into real world products.”

U-M is one of four universities with an MTRAC program, joining Michigan State University, Michigan Technical University and Wayne State University. Each university focuses on a different industry, including agriculture biology, advanced applied materials, life sciences, advanced transportation and biomedical.

In collaboration with the host universities, supported by the Michigan Strategic Fund and managed by the MEDC Entrepreneurship and Innovation initiative, MTRAC programs have funded 138 projects, helped develop 19 startup companies, created 61 jobs, secured $76.4 million in follow-on funding, and licensed technology to 12 industry partners.

Funding for the U-M innovation hub projects begins Aug. 1 and runs through July 31, 2018. The statewide U-M MTRAC innovation hub transportation program will accept new applications beginning in January 2018.

MEDC’s Entrepreneur and Innovation initiative establishes Michigan as the place to create and grow a business by providing high-tech startup companies with access to a variety of critical resources, such as funding and expert counsel, from ideation to maturation.


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