Connected vehicle testing begins at MIS

Connected vehicle testing

Official testing of connected vehicle technology at Michigan International Speedway has now become a reality at the Irish Hills NASCAR racetrack.

Following a January announcement by MIS, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Center for Automotive Research (CAR) to use MIS’ road course as a test facility for connected vehicle technology, August 24 marked the official date those efforts took place. The R&D testing partnership was announced after MIS was selected out of more than 20 sites in a Michigan Tech Research Institution (MTRI) study commissioned by MDOT to locate a connected vehicle test location within the state.

This week, TEAMLINC™, a product of Westlake, Ohio,-based Western DataCom and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development Center (TARDEC), demonstrated connected vehicle capabilities with their secure Mobile Ad Hoc Networking (MANET) technologies for the U.S. Army National Automotive Center.

The live demonstration showed users in military and passenger vehicles how to wirelessly communicate with voice, video and data while on the move or on the halt (parked). The purpose of the demonstration was to test MANET applications for future integration into military and first responder emergency vehicles. It would give EMS, fire and police responders the ability to communicate with one another via Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology, which currently does not exist with the current system.

Interest in the technology has sparked the interest of the Michigan National Guard, which will be in attendance for Thursday’s test session. Both the road course and two-mile MIS oval have been used during the entire four-day test session.

“We hope that this is only the beginning for having companies like Western DataCom and TARDEC take advantage of the MIS facilities to develop and implement this connected vehicle technology,” MIS President Roger Curtis said.

The use of MIS as a private road test facility is one of the final pieces that puts Michigan at the forefront of this industry-defining technology. Already home to more than 80 percent of the automotive R&D in the United States, a united effort between MIS, MDOT, Center for Automotive Research, and others are under way to make Michigan the center for connected vehicle technology, development and testing. A 2007 study by Michigan State University and CAR has shown any state that successfully pulls together a fully functioning “lab to assembly line” system with connected vehicle technology, will create between 16,000 and 41,000 high tech jobs and contribute between $177 and $448 million in state income tax revenues.

“Research and development is critical to the growth of this technology and its value in lowering the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities, as well as the potential impact on the automotive sector and job creation. It is imperative we structure an approach to this large-scale effort and further Michigan’s leadership in this arena. The new partnership will assist with this development,” David Cole, chairman, Center for Automotive Research, the home of the Connected Vehicle Proving Center said back in January.

At MIS, automakers and after-market providers will be able to test and develop connected vehicle systems and other technologies in a protected, closed, safe and convenient environment. Combined with MDOT’s Telegraph Road corridor project, Michigan can now offer a connected vehicle test and evaluation laboratory on both public and private roads.

MIS, which served as an AMC test track for several years starting in the mid-1970s, has two 1.9-mile road courses that would be used for testing. The two-mile oval, which is used by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series during the track’s two race weekends, could also be used for testing.

The facility possesses a number of features which are imperative to a connected vehicle test site. MIS sits on 1,400 acres of various road surfaces, terrains, elevations, and barriers and provides a neutral, private, closed environment near the center of the automotive R&D industry. A Western DataCom test and the installation of two Kapsch radios are scheduled for August.

Through this R&D initiative, Michigan International Speedway plans to expand track activity and growth by utilizing the facilities various assets, but also assist the state in the process by keeping R&D dollars in Michigan.

The road course testing project will expand the MIS footprint beyond NASCAR racing and continue the racetrack’s public-private partnership with the state. The racetrack, located in the Southeastern Michigan town of Brooklyn, is conveniently located near 80 percent of the world’s automotive engineering and R&D companies and leading universities.

“Michigan is already the center of the automotive industry. This ‘Internet on wheels’ technology is going to come to fruition in our generation and MIS is extremely proud to play a small role in helping ensure that as it does Michigan will continue to be the global leader in cutting-edge automobile development,” Curtis said. “This partnership puts Michigan in a unique leadership role that may create the next ‘Silicon Valley’ in our backyard and in doing so, retain and create thousands of high-tech, high-paying jobs.”

For more information, contact Kevin Kelly, Michigan International Speedway, 517-592-1128, kkelly@mispeedway.com.

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