Grand opening for American Center for Mobility celebrates new partnership with Microsoft

As the American Center for Mobility opens, it also grows. After a soft opening on December 11, 2017, the 500-acre connected and autonomous vehicle research and testing site, ACM celebrated a more formal grand opening this week with industry and education partners, government officials, and members of the mobility community.

This summer, the facility will install an urban intersection, which is the beginning of a miniature city test environment that will include building facades and an urban infrastructure, scheduled for completion by the end of this year. A headquarters, plus a lab with a demonstration space will also be added.

American Center for Mobility is 500-acre connected and autonomous research and testing facility, one of 10 federally designated proving grounds.
During the grand opening, ACM announced that Microsoft will become the exclusive provider of cloud resources and data infrastructure critical to accurate testing of connected and automated vehicles and mobility technologies.

“We have been working with the Microsoft team for the past three months, and are very. very happy to have you with us here today. It’s going to be an incredible partnership,” says John Maddox, president and CEO at ACM.

With the terabytes of data that autonomous vehicles will generate, Microsoft will move data securely to its cloud platform for analysis, and eventual sharing by ACM members with entities to build new data models, says Kevin Dallas, corporate vice president, artificial intelligence & intelligent cloud business development for Microsoft.
Kevin Dallas is corporate VP, AI & intelligent cloud business development at Microsoft.

“We see [our partnership] as an opportunity to invest deeply in the first safe environment where we can test, simulate, and validate connected and autonomous vehicles.” Dallas says.

Globally, Microsoft provides cloud availability to 140 countries through 42 data regions, and has invested billions of dollars each year in building and developing this asset. Additionally, Microsoft is developing applications such as the intelligent personal assistant and productivity services like Office in the car, through Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform.

Microsoft and ACM will collaborate to design a Data Management & Analytics Platform (DMAP), based in the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, and will help ACM partner innovators test and validate their connected and autonomous vehicle solutions to create safer roadways in Michigan, and worldwide.

The ACM-Microsoft combination is groundbreaking, says Maddox.

“We believe it’s the first such partnership between an automated vehicle test facility and
a worldwide-scale cloud provider,” Maddox says. Given the volume of data generated, cloud storage capability is vital for analysis. “Having Microsoft here with us will help us build brand new tools that we think will help accelerate the companies working here in Michigan at ACM and frankly, in the U.S., so we look at this as a very important first.”

Gov. Rick Snyder sees the work carried out at ACM as wholly collaborative, not just with Michigan partners and providers, but with resources across the world. Data gathered and shared can help developers make autonomous transportation safer for everyone. And Michigan is the state to lead this collaboration.

“It’s not us versus anyone else. It’s how we can help lead the world as the best partner,” Synder says.

Beyond Michigan’s physical and virtual facilities, Snyder touted the development of the talent pipeline that will equip workers with mobility career opportunities, giving the example of Washtenaw Community College Advanced Transportation Center intelligent transportation technician programs. His Marshall Plan for Talent concept “isn’t about our educational system, it’s about our talent system, from prenatal through lifelong learning,” he says.

“That’s the catalyst, the capstone, on top of wonderful technologies and wonderful facilities, is [Michigan] having the best, most talented people in the world.”
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