Faculty voice:

John Verboncoeur: The future of automotive innovation

Jan. 11, 2017

John Verboncoeur is the associate dean for research in the College of Engineering.

The 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit describes itself as the place where future mobility innovations meet the pavement.

It’s fitting then that Michigan State University is among the few universities featured at the NAIAS AutoMobili-D exposition, which is focused on the rapidly evolving global automotive and mobility landscape. More than 100 companies, including automakers, tier one suppliers and tech startups are headlining AutoMobili-D in Cobo Center this week.

MSU is using this premier to showcase its Spartan autonomous vehicle and provide experts to describe our research and our insights into the developing technologies. To participate in these defining moments of mobility evolution, MSU is focusing on key areas of strength, integrating vehicle technologies, smart infrastructure and mobility modeling.

For us, the brass ring is an ability to contribute industry-shaping innovations that will reach beyond the automotive scene.

The technologies and ideas being developed at MSU – whether tied to the next generation of cars or advances in cybersecurity – are bigger than one industry. Spartan innovations in robotics, sensors and actuators, connectivity and software will transform your life in more than just your vehicle, but also in the kitchen and on the farm.

Due to its focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, an economic consequence of the mobility revolution will be a transformation from slow and steady in-house automotive R & D departments to the creativity of small entrepreneurs.

Small companies will be incubated and merged into the new mobility innovation engine, with the vehicle manufacturers performing the final stages of development and integration to ensure safety and manufacturability. Detroit will begin to look a lot more like Silicon Valley, where small innovative companies including university spinoffs feed the tech industry’s hunger for new ideas.

It’s how MSU’s leading technologies – like biometrics, multi-spectral computer vision, deep learning, sensor fusion, data science, antenna design and signal and image processing – will help create a super human awareness in autonomous and connected vehicles.

Leading the way is MSU’s Mobility Studio, an integrated system encompassing autonomous and connected vehicles, smart infrastructure, and mobility management. CANVAS – Connected and Autonomous Networked Vehicles for Active Safety is the vehicle component.

The outcomes will enhance safety and security, and help with everything from pedestrian-vehicle arbitration to traffic throughput. Researchers in CANVAS already have 100+ patents and 200,000 Google Scholar citations, and we are just getting started.

Spartans Will.

Read more about MSU’s autonomous vehicle research in the MSUToday feature, Smarter. Safer. More connected.