Xerox has announced its support of the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Facility – a 32 acre simulated city designed to research the impact of the connected car revolution.
Currently other industry partners involved in the project include Toyota, Ford, General Motors, Bosch and Econolite and will make up the Mobility Transformation Center’s (MTC’s) Leadership Circle. Each will donate $1 million over the next three years to support the program.
The facility, which should be completed by fall 2014, includes not only a network of three lane-miles of concrete and asphalt roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, but also simulated buildings, benches and streetlights, and obstacles such as construction sites.
“This is not a test drive facility, it’s a simulated urban environment,” David Cummins, a senior vice president and managing director for Xerox Transportation and Government, said of the project.
“If you’re thinking about all the data that is generated in a city, there could be cars, vehicles, buses, traffic signals themselves, bike sharing, car sharing: There’s a myriad of different things being captured separately in any given city,” he said.
Though better known for its copiers, Xerox has worked in transportation for more than 40 years, supplying fare and electronic toll collection management, back-end processing for transportation infrastructure and parking systems to both public and private entities in over 35 countries.
“We haven’t been actively working in projects for connected vehicles, but we’ve been thinking about how to push our data out more widely. We’re the company who has all those contracts with transit authorities and cities and airports,” Cummins said.
One project Xerox will focus on with MTC is integrating smart parking apps into auto systems and mobile devices. Xerox Merge currently provides real-time data and analytics about meter use and space occupancy.
Xerox will also work with data from the the Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) Safety Pilot Model Deployment program, in which nearly 3,000 vehicles were deployed on the road for a year to explore the potential of using vehicle-to-vehicle communication to prevent crashes. In February 2014, the DOT announced that it would begin to take steps towards enabling V2V technology.