New Campaign Hopes To Position Michigan As Global Leader In Autonomous Vehicles and Transportation

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In order for Detroit to hold on to the title of the “Motor City,” the region and state will have to adapt to advances in technology. With that in mind, Gov. Rick Snyder today announced a new campaign – Planet M – created with the goal of elevating Michigan as the hub of mobility innovations, leading to more business investment and jobs in the state.

The campaign’s tagline is “Michigan. Where big ideas in mobility are born.”

“Planet M represents Michigan’s future as a leader in mobility and the innovations that will continue to attract investment in our state,” Snyder said in a statement. “Michigan has always been the automotive industry leader, and as the transportation industry evolves, our state’s influence will continue to shape the way the world moves.”

According to recent data, more than half of the world’s population live in towns and cities, and by 2040, researchers project that two out of three people will live in urban environments. The hope is that many of the technologies that are changing the transportation industry will be conceptualized, tested and created in Michigan.

Michigan will be home to two permanent and purpose-built autonomous vehicle testing sites by the end of next year.

  • Mcity, a 32-acre site that opened in 2015, simulates urban and suburban environments.
  • The American Center for Mobility, a 335-acre site at the former Willow Run location, will provide additional testing and validation resources for the industry including higher speeds and interaction with rail and flight.

There were six points highlighted by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to support the Planet M campaign include:

  • Michigan is home to the largest concentration of engineers in the nation.
  • Many automotive manufacturers and suppliers are either based in the state or hold a major presence here, including seven global auto research and development companies with headquarters based in Michigan: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan and Toyota.
  • Michigan boasts the largest deployment of freeway and surface street Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) technology in the United States. Researchers expect 120 miles of a technology-enabled “smart corridor” will span I-96, I-696, I-94 and US-23. Future deployments on I-69 and I-75 will broaden the scope of testing capabilities.
  • Michigan is home to an all-weather environment, which is critical in testing autonomous technologies.
  • Michigan leads the nation in patents relating to navigation and smart mobility.
  • Michigan schools have specialized programs to focus on automotive technology and design, such as the K-12 program Square One, community college programs like Washtenaw Community College and university programs at schools including The University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.

So who is Planet M? The initiative is made up of a consortium representing the public sector, private sector, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions. It’s more of a marketing message as opposed to a formal organization, and the early partners read like a who’s who of business and government groups – the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), MDOT, Business Leaders for Michigan, MichAuto and University Research Corridor.

“Michigan’s auto ecosystem and solid infrastructure has now opened the doors to other industries and innovators,” said Steve Arwood, director of the Talent and Economic Development Department in a statement. “Michigan is strengthening its position as the hub for the next generation of transportation, and Planet M will elevate those strengths to a national and international audience.”

For more information as this develops, they’ll be making updates on in the coming weeks.

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