Momentum - November 2017 - 7



EVOLVING TO STAY RELEVANT in the fast-changing engineering world
is a challenge faced by every institution of higher learning. In 2013,
educators at the University of Michigan's Dearborn campus inspired by
a National Academy of Engineering study took this evolution seriously
with an initiative called "Preparing the Engineer of 2020."
Outdated lectures, textbooks and lab experiments were replaced by
a fresh Design, Build, and Test curriculum. New lean-startup courses
addressing customer discovery techniques were added. The goal was to
assure that engineering students graduated with the skills they'd need
to be productive at the very start of their careers.
A prime example of the Design, Build, Test approach is an autonomous
shuttle under development for implementation at the Dearborn campus
next year. The seed for this project was planted when the nearby Henry
Ford Museum embraced autonomy as one of its core areas of emphasis.
Why not provide an autonomous shuttle to ferry visitors between
the Amtrak station and the museum, one U of M-Dearborn educator
wondered. After a few months of study revealed the broad scope of
such an undertaking, the idea evolved into a more attainable on-campus
service dedicated to faculty, staff and student use.
Anthony England, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer
Science, recognized the merits of the project and authorized seed
funding earlier this year. Engineering professors and their students then
began building the shuttle's foundation: selecting a suitable vehicle
platform; engineering drive-by-wire systems for guidance, propulsion,
braking, and signaling; and creating three-dimensional GPS maps of
the campus.
The vehicle of choice is a six-passenger Polaris GEM. This lightweight
"neighborhood" EV has a top speed of 25 mph and quick batterycharging capability. All the controls and equipment necessary for bywire operation have been designed, built and tested in the laboratory
per the university's new educational doctrine. GPS maps now in hand
will enable the first test vehicle to drive autonomously on the planned
1.8-mile-long campus route sometime next year. By the end of 2018, free
shuttles are expected to be in full service.
Electrical and Computer Engineering Chairman Paul Richardson
considers the Dearborn campus an ideal environment because it will
expose these autonomous vehicles to real world societal influences-
such as unpredictable student pedestrian behavior-without requiring
compliance with Michigan DOT strictures-such as the need for human
The next phase is fund raising-securing partners willing to share
some of the cost in exchange for access to the autonomous shuttles and
their operating environment. Industry partners currently are supporting
60% of the research conducted at University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Explained Sridhar Lakshmanan, an Electrical and Computer
Engineering professor, "Standards for the performance of lidar and


Go Blue! A six-passenger Polaris GEM EV has been converted for
autonomous operation.
Photo credit: University of Michigan-Dearborn Electrical and Computer
Engineering Dept.

other sensors don't exist today. Our live autonomous
laboratory provides an excellent means of filling that
void." He adds that autonomous capability will be
phased in incrementally.
"We'll start with the GPS map base which identifies
roadways, traffic signs, and the like but not variable
hazards such as pedestrians," he noted. "Then we'll add
stereo-camera vision developed in our Visual Odometry
lab to define the location and trajectory of any
object in the shuttle's path. Lidar sensors-also under
study here-will add more size, distance, and object
movement detail."
The team aims to improve the infrastructure of the
shuttle route by programming traffic signs and overhead
lights to communicate with the electric people movers.
The final environment will be safe, convenient, and
highly functional, he asserted, "while providing industry
partners with an excellent means of testing their sensors
and equipment well in advance of their production
Lakshmanan and Richardson are quick to point out
the key difference between the Dearborn shuttle and a
similar service that begins later this year at the University
of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus.
"The French supplier NAVYA is manufacturing the
Ann Arbor shuttles in ready-to-operate form," noted
Lakshmanan. "While that system will be useful for
gathering autonomous vehicle data, engineering
students there will miss out on the design, build, and test
opportunities we're offering with our Dearborn project."

Don Sherman, Automotive Engineering

November 2017 7


Momentum - November 2017

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Momentum - November 2017

Momentum - November 2017
A Leader on Leadership
All About Endurance
U of M-Dearborn Students Engineer New Autonomous Shuttle System
Air Superiority
Lending a Helping (Engineering) Hand
Spartan Power
Photo Contest Winner
Rolls-Royce Looks to Corner Commercial Markets, Military Next
Mack Hits the Highway With Style and Technology
Cadillac Plugs in Ct6 for High-Value Efficiency
Autonomous Driving Rules the Day at Sae
World’s Most Exciting Mobility Startups to Be at La Comotion
Dossier: Max Mitchell of Progressive Suspension
Follow Your Heat
Momentum - November 2017 - Momentum - November 2017
Momentum - November 2017 - Cover2
Momentum - November 2017 - Contents
Momentum - November 2017 - A Leader on Leadership
Momentum - November 2017 - Briefs
Momentum - November 2017 - All About Endurance
Momentum - November 2017 - 5
Momentum - November 2017 - 6
Momentum - November 2017 - U of M-Dearborn Students Engineer New Autonomous Shuttle System
Momentum - November 2017 - Air Superiority
Momentum - November 2017 - 9
Momentum - November 2017 - 10
Momentum - November 2017 - Lending a Helping (Engineering) Hand
Momentum - November 2017 - Spartan Power
Momentum - November 2017 - 13
Momentum - November 2017 - Photo Contest Winner
Momentum - November 2017 - Rolls-Royce Looks to Corner Commercial Markets, Military Next
Momentum - November 2017 - Mack Hits the Highway With Style and Technology
Momentum - November 2017 - 17
Momentum - November 2017 - 18
Momentum - November 2017 - Cadillac Plugs in Ct6 for High-Value Efficiency
Momentum - November 2017 - Autonomous Driving Rules the Day at Sae
Momentum - November 2017 - World’s Most Exciting Mobility Startups to Be at La Comotion
Momentum - November 2017 - Dossier: Max Mitchell of Progressive Suspension
Momentum - November 2017 - 23
Momentum - November 2017 - Follow Your Heat
Momentum - November 2017 - Cover3
Momentum - November 2017 - Cover4