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Toyota Partners with U-M to Study Advanced Vehicle System Designs



The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has partnered with Japan’s Toyota and its Collaborative Safety Research Center on a research project focused on enhancing advanced technology system designs to make them more intuitive, easy to understand and to safely engage with drivers.

Toyota, which operates its Collaborative Safety Research Center and its North American Research and Development facility in Ann Arbor, is also working with Miami University, University of Nebraska, Texas Transportation Institute, and State Farm. Each education institution has partnered with Toyota on its own project.

The company’s research center is investing $1 million in research projects focused on enabling safer and more efficient mobility systems by exploring driver behavior in different environments, monitoring driver health, and identifying driver error when interacting with advanced driver assistance systems technologies.

Data from each project will be shared across the institutions to help speed research, with the results made public to support the advancement of auto safety industrywide.

U-M will work with the center on how road characteristics such as driving in a courteous manner and being safe can be used to help define advanced driver assistance systems or automated driving design criteria across a number of driving contexts such as different weather conditions and levels of traffic congestion.

“These studies will help us better align advanced vehicle technologies with the driver’s needs and allow us to design and develop systems that are ultimately intuitive and easy for drivers to use,” says Jeff Makarewicz, group vice president of Toyota Motor North America, advanced mobility research and development. “By working with our partner institutions and openly sharing our insights with the broader automotive, government, NGO, and technology communities, we believe we can help progress society’s acceptance of these new and promising technologies.”

Other projects will focus on whether it’s possible to design an alert to autonomous shuttle riders to adjust their balance to prepare for a sudden stop, using sensors to detect driver health and disease, and the ability to use integrated multi-domain data in identifying driver behaviors, including driver errors and poor performance when interacting with modern advanced driver assistance systems.

The center was launched in 2011 and has since initiated 63 research projects with 31 partner universities, publishing more than 400 papers and presenting at industry conferences. The center’s research has included studies into human factors on vehicle safety and the efficacy of active and passive safety systems, as well as the collection of driving safety data and development of new tools to analyze the data.

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