Combining a shift to electric vehicles over the next decades and paying to offset emissions, General Motors announced yesterday a plan to finally put internal combustion engines and their climate-altering pollution in the rearview within 2 decades. Historically, GM is not known for quick corporate change or for prioritizing the planet over shareholder value, but the writing has been on the wall now for over a decade between government regulations and urgent climate change priorities shifting how consumers aim to purchase next vehicles. GM has worked for a number of years to retrofit older vehicle designs with hybrid and electric options, and recently put nearly all of its R&D budget into designing electric vehicles from the ground up, signaling a serious commitment to EVs. Currently, electric vehicle sales are in the single digits percentage-wise of vehicles sold, but rising quickly as more practical options become available and rapid charging becomes viable for the average consumer.
Recent announcements of Michigan opening a first in the nation autonomous highway corridor between Ann Arbor and Detroit have spurred discussions of how that corridor could be used beyond autonomous vehicles. Could air traffic such as drones be a part of it? In our recent interview with the MUASC’s Melinda Marion, we learned that regulations are a long a way off from allowing air traffic such as sky taxis. However, the state of Michigan and various cities surrounding Detroit Metropolitan Airport are as aware as the MUASC that this is a space that must be sorted out as the tech is developed. With that in mind, Aerotropolis is working with communities surrounding Detroit Metro Airport, such as Romulus and Taylor, to work out the permissions and uses of air space around the airport in Detroit.
Cars are gonna fly any day now, or so the story goes according to the non-transportation media. It’s a nice thought, and it will be here eventually. Everybody wants to live like the Jetsons, right? But the reality of drones, self-driving air transport, and the integration of ground and air transportation communication and highways is on the way. It just looks very different than you might expect.
Mobility startups have been changing lately, and not just in the products they’re producing–from pedestrian safety apps to self-driving cars. Micromobility startup Arcimoto was featured at this year’s TU-Automotive Software conference in Detroit, speaking on the subject of integrating a mobility startup into the industry. We caught up with founder Mark Frohnmayer after the conference to get his tips for startup founders who are doing the same, and to ask how the industry is shifting in other ways. How do you integrate a mobility startup into a complex traditional auto industry? What is shifting within the mobility space this year? Frohnmayer says that in the 13 years since founding Arcimoto, a last-mile delivery and first responder vehicle company that produces small 3-wheel EVs in Eugene, Oregon, he has learned a few things to share.
Susan Wagner of KLA Corporation spoke up front at this year’s TechTalk out of Ann Arbor on the importance of diversity and inclusion. Inclusion gives companies the diversity of thought and experience to be as creative and innovative as possible. “We should work together to life one another up. It does not mean that just because others succeed we will fail… all boats rise together,” she said. “KLA is a global company. COVID’s impact can vary,” Wagner said. “The semiconductor industry is playing a crucial role to enable work from home. Many things are changing, some for good,” she said. “Electronics are more important than ever to keep us connected.”
The Ann Arbor Mobility Summit: Autonomous, Electrification, & Mobility as a Service Are Transforming The Future of Transport
Kicking off this year’s expanded Ann Arbor Mobility Summit was a panel discussing the “Changing Face of Automotive in the New Normal” with Senior Product and Strategic Planning Manager at Waymo Cristi Landy, Bill Frykman who works on connected vehicles at Ford and leads City Solutions Team, and Kara Grasso who works on solutions for mobility, autonomy and electrification for Denso. Moderating was Carla Bailo, president of the Center for Automotive Research, which provides independent research on the automotive industry.
It’s finally here: Ann Arbor’s annual tech week, a2tech360, starts today and runs all next week with 16 online tech events highlighting the latest innovations and trends in mobility tech, Midwest investment, software, security startups, and life sciences.
Passenger cars and trucks have become rolling software updates, and while that has sped up product development cycles, it has created a big problem. A lot of the automotive industry has been updating software post vehicle sale through dealership recalls. As you can imagine, with dozens of systems using different software in a single car, that could become an issue. Enter remote software updates, an increasingly common strategy for mobility tech to integrate continuously improving software into vehicles that have already been set on the road.
Enterprise software company UrsaLeo recently announced an expansion into the Southeast Michigan advanced manufacturing space with an Ann Arbor office opening. The company plans to work with manufacturers to create 3D photorealistic models of factory floors, equipment and product models to create remote training, operations, and product demo options for companies adding virtual modeling to their operations.
TusStar is an affiliated network of tech startup incubators and early stage venture accelerators located in over 130 cities around the world. It is led by professors at Tsinghua University in China, a major research university in Beijing, and there is a TusStar Incubator in emerging tech hub Ann Arbor, where a number of academic faculty at the University of Michigan start new companies to make use of inventions found during their research careers. Frank Ni is the head of TusStar Ann Arbor, founded as the premier TusStar location in the U.S. in late 2017 on the north side of Ann Arbor which is famous for its engineering, science research, robotics and autonomous vehicle research campuses. “Innovation can go beyond borders,” Ni tells Cronicle of the philosophy of starting an international incubator in Southeast Michigan.