Wayne State researchers tabbed for Michigan Mobility Challenge at NAIAS

A research group that includes faculty and students from the Wayne State University College of Engineering was among those chosen to participate in the 2020 Michigan Mobility Challenge during the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The challenge, unveiled by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer at the Mackinac Policy Conference in May, aims to create and analyze automated and connected vehicle technologies that enable advanced mobility solutions for attendees to navigate NAIAS and the many attractions around Detroit's TCF Center.

Weisong Shi, professor of computer science and director of the Connected and Autonomous Driving (CAR) Lab, and his students will be responsible for the autonomous shuttle testing data collection and analysis. The team is partnering with NAVYA, a French mobility company, which has offices in Saline - about 40 miles west of Wayne State's campus - that will provide shuttles for the event.

Weisong Shi
Weisong Shi

"We are committed to our role as a global leader in transforming mobility technology and the automotive landscape while improving the lives and safety of Michigan residents and visitors through unique and innovative partnerships," Governor Whitmer said in an Oct. 22 announcement of the selections. "The providers selected through this Mobility Challenge have the opportunity to put the future of automotive technology on display in the heart of Motor City for visitors and residents alike."

"This is likely the first occasion in the U.S. in which autonomous shuttles will be put into a large-scale event like NAIAS," said Shi. "The data collection and analysis will definitely help us better understand the impact of autonomous driving technologies to the community."

The team will collect video data from the inside and front view of NAVYA's 15-passenger, fixed-route shuttles and store the information in the CAR Lab's HydraSpace secure data storage server. Real-time analysis will be conducted using a platform developed by Shi called EdgeWare.

"Using deep-learning technology to unlock the data, we will acquire valuable information about how many people use the shuttles, the number and duration of trips, and the frequency of incident stops," said Shi, who also serves as the College of Engineering's associate dean for research. "By the end of the project, we will get a report that documents the autonomous shuttle service, comparing the goals of the service with its results and evaluating its overall impact."

The Michigan Mobility Challenge sought industry and academic partners who could deploy cutting-edge technologies to create automated transportation options around NAIAS - the first to be held in the summer after decades of January events - as well as to and from Detroit Metro Airport and places of interest such as restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues. The various options will be brought together for users in a mobile app.

Governor Whitmer's office, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.'s PlanetM program sponsored the challenge to demonstrate Michigan's capabilities in connected automotive technology. Wayne State University is emerging as a mobility leader in the state, as evidenced by such research initiatives as the Center for Advanced Mobility and academic pathways that include its cyber-physical systems graduate certificate program.

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