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Growing automobility ecosystem highlighted in State of the Region

December 6, 2019
Michigan is the most progressive state for R&D, testing, and deployment of next-generation mobility technology. That is the clear takeaway from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s sixth annual State of the Region report’s section on Michigan’s growing automobility ecosystem.

The State of the Region report benchmarks the economic health of the region again national peer metro regions. Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah presented the report, highlighting the elements of Michigan’s automobility ecosystem that position the state as the global leader in mobility.

View the Next-Generation Mobility spotlight on pg. 20 of the full report below.

Automotive Advantage

Michigan is the automotive center with 21 Original Equipment Manufacturers headquarters or technology centers, 1.8 million vehicles assembled, and accounts for $225 billion to the state economy and reported by MichAuto earlier this year.

Testing and Validation

Home to two world-class testing and validation centers – American Center for Mobility, a $135 million investment, and MCity, and investment of $26.5 million for research, development, and deployment projects.

Deployment and Pilot Projects

An array of the project have been awarded and are taking place across the state to test next-generation technology and infrastructure, Michigan being No. 1 for U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT)-funded operational connected vehicle deployments is a testament to that.

  • A $7.5 million grant from the U.S. DOT was awarded to the State of Michigan, the City of Detroit, University of Michigan and the American Center for Mobility for R&D and testing of self-driving technologies.
  • There are more than 300 Roadside Units (RSUs) installed on roadways in Macom County, with plans for 740 by 2021.
  • The Detroit – Windsor international border was the first to have an international border crossing truck platooning test by the U.S. Army/TARDEC and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Entrepreneurship is exploding with 35 investment organizations active in the mobility space and an additional 72 organizations providing entrepreneurial support. The PlanetM Landing Zone is a hotbed for these mobility entrepreneurs with 39 startups and 16 corporate partners from the automotive industry collaborating.

Derq, a PlanetM Landing Zone member and Dubai-based AI and V2X technology company,  partnered with MDOT to successfully pilot sensor technology at a major Detroit intersection that includes the tunnel to Canada.

Talent Advantage

The talent graduating from Michigan universities to support this industry is unmatched. Michigan has 115,000 engineers across the state and is the No. 1 state in the nation for mechanical engineers (44,000), industrial engineers (31,000), and commercial and industrial designers (5,000).

Education Pipeline

Michigan is preparing the talent needed for the future workforce this technology requires. ??????

  • The state is No. 1 in the nation for high school and early elementary FIRST robotics teams.
  • More than 8,000 engineering degrees are conferred annually at Michigan universities and colleges.
  • There are 16 nationally ranked undergraduate engineering programs and nationally ranked engineering graduate programs at Michigan universities and colleges.
  • The Center for Advanced Mobility will award the first-of-its-kind Master of Mobility at Wayne State University’s College of Engineering in conjunction with the Michigan Mobility Institute.
  • Macomb Community College and Washtenaw Community College both offer mobility career programs.


Michigan Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) legislation leads the nation, allowing driverless cars and vehicle platoon testing on public roads. Additionally, Michigan State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-MI 13) introduced a package of bills with bipartisan sponsorship that would support the growth of electric vehicles in Michigan, and enable a statewide charging network.

This article was originally published on Driven.