Global automotive seating supplier Adient has become an affiliate member of the University of Michigan’s (U-M) Mobility Transformation Center (MTC). The center is a research partnership of industry, government and academia that is laying the foundation for a commercially viable system of connected and automated vehicles.
“We are pleased to be a part of this dynamic research group and look forward to working together to address the challenges and opportunities that a world with vehicle connectivity will bring,” said Bruce McDonald, Adient’s chairman and CEO.
Adient – created when Johnson Controls’ automotive seating business was spun off as an independent company in 2016 – conducts extensive market and consumer research on the needs of autonomous vehicle interiors. Seating will play an important role as drivers and passengers spend more time on non-driving activities.
At the recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Adient revealed its “AI17” interior seating concept for level-3 and level-4 autonomous vehicles. The seating supplier noted that once vehicles have the capability to be computer-driven, occupants will demand more flexibility from a vehicle’s seating and interior space than ever before.
“Connected and automated vehicles hold the potential to dramatically improve the safety, sustainability and accessibility of our mobility system,” said Dr. Huei Peng, director of MTC. “Through this consortium arrangement, we are engaging cutting-edge technology suppliers, thought leaders and entrepreneurs required to inform and drive progress toward that transformative vision.”
Adient and MTC’s other affiliates represent a range of sectors that will play a role in shaping a viable system of connected and automated vehicles, including automotive manufacturing, vehicle communication devices, chips and hardware and insurance, as well as companies engaged in technologies such as advanced modeling, big data acquisition and intelligent transportation systems.
Affiliates each commit $150,000 over three years in order to participate in selected MTC working groups and research programs as well as key research reviews and an annual MTC Congress. They also have access to the Mcity proving ground and on-road vehicle test beds.
Mcity is a simulated urban-suburban environment for testing connected and automated vehicles and systems before they are tried out in real traffic. Mcity sits on a 32-acre site on U-M’s North Campus, with more than 16 acres of roads and traffic infrastructure. In addition, MTC is working with its partners to develop on-road vehicle deployments in Ann Arbor and beyond to serve as test beds for partners to evaluate the effectiveness of various approaches and explore market opportunities.