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Ann Arbor, Mich., Gets Another Boost for Smart Car Research

Siemens has worked in Ann Arbor for a decade testing out connected vehicle technology, and will now set up its Center of Excellence for Intelligent Traffic Technology in the city.

Ann Arbor, Mich., has been heavily involved in the development of the smart car for years now — as the U.S. Department of Transportation opened up testing programs for connected vehicle technology that it hopes to make mandatory in new models, the resident university’s Mobility Transformation Center has set up a “fake city” to test out emerging tech. And researchers at its Transportation Research Institute have done field-leading work examining the impacts that self-driving cars might one day have on American society.

The city got another boost for smart car research this week as Siemens, a transportation technology company, announced it was making Ann Arbor the site of its first “Center of Excellence for Intelligent Traffic Technology.” Siemens already has been working in the city as a contributor to some of the aforementioned projects, but the company promised to accelerate those efforts Dec. 14 in a press release.

Three technologies Siemens hopes to work on at its center are:

  • TACTICS smartGuard, a cloud-based traffic management platform. The software gives cities the ability to monitor traffic conditions in real time and respond accordingly to issues such as congestion and accidents.
  • SEPAC Local Controller Software, a program that allows direct communication between traffic controllers, smartphones, vehicles and a central system.
  • The Split, Cycle, and Offset Optimization Technique (SCOOT) system, a traffic control program that adjusts signals to optimize traffic flow. The latest version of the program improves its operation low-flow traffic periods and updates emission estimate reporting.
Siemens has been working in Ann Arbor for 10 years, installing its first SCOOT system at 44 intersections in 2005, according to the statement.

That technology, along with other projects out of the center, will help the city better manage commuting traffic, as well as travelers and those coming to the city for University of Michigan sporting events — which can, in the case of a Wolverines football game, draw more than 100,000 people to the school’s stadium.

“Ann Arbor is a city of 115,000 residents, 70,000 students and thousands of visitors, and that puts considerable stress on a transportation system," said Marcus Welz, president of Siemens Intelligent Traffic Systems, in the press release. "So the need to move traffic in and out of the city efficiently is crucial not only for economic and environmental impacts, but for quality of life for Ann Arbor residents.”

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.