Director, Department of Transportation, Michigan
For Kirk Steudle, transforming our transportation systems into advanced networks of connected and autonomous vehicles isn’t a question of if or even when. Rather, Steudle is deeply involved in facilitating that transformation now.
Regarded as a leading authority on intelligent transportation systems (ITS), Steudle holds or has held numerous positions of authority when it comes to improving the way we move. For most of a decade, Steudle has overseen the Michigan Department of Transportation while serving as 2014 chair of the Transportation Research Board Executive Committee. He also chairs the board’s Strategic Highway Research Program, was the 2014 chair of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America Board of Directors, and is a member of the ITS Program Advisory Committee to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Steudle is engaged with numerous projects. Among the most innovative is an effort to deploy vehicle-to-infrastructure communication technology on more than 120 miles of metro Detroit roadway.
“We’re working on smart corridors,” he said. “It’s a big triangle in southeast Michigan. It’s around the freeways. But it’s not just freeways, it’s the surface streets, it’s the connectors. They are corridors of infrastructure we are putting in place.”
The project, a partnership between the state of Michigan, General Motors, Ford and the Mobility Transformation Center at the University of Michigan, was announced by General Motors CEO Mary Barra last September at the ITS World Congress in Detroit.
Connected vehicle technology, Steudle said, “is really moving away from research and toward how to make decisions about deployment.” In that spirit, he also is helping to bring to life a new miniature city for connected and autonomous cars.
“There’s another big thing we’re doing this year, and really the University of Michigan is taking the lead on this, we’re opening up what’s called M City, which is a complete, autonomous city,” Steudle said.
The 32-acre facility, which is set to open this summer, will test connected and automated vehicle systems, with a goal to implement a connected and automated mobility system on the streets of southeastern Michigan by 2021.