Ceremony announces $9 million, five-year autonomous project

July 25, 2023

MSU and U.S. Army launch new mobility initiative

Michigan State University and the U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center, or GVSC, launched a new mobility research initiative as part of a five-year research program to advance autonomous ground vehicle research with Central Michigan University and the University of Michigan.

“MSU and its partners are truly driving the future of mobility,” said MSU Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. “Today, we celebrate another success story of this long-standing relationship — a $9 million investment for building the next generation of lightweight, all-terrain autonomous ground vehicles — right here on campus.”

MSU, Engineering and Army officials celebrated the start of a $9 million, five-year research project to advance safety and autonomous vehicles.
Dignitaries from MSU, MSU Engineering, the federal government and the U.S. Army celebrated the start of a $9 million, five-year project to create a new generation of autonomous vehicles.

Around 100 people gathered on Monday, July 24, to celebrate the decades-old relationship between MSU and the U.S. Army tied to advanced composites. The event was hosted in MSU's Composite Vehicle Research Center (CVRC) located on Forest Road, southwest of campus.

Tom Voice, senior associate dean and professor of civil and environmental engineering, served as emcee for the hour-long ceremony. The speakers were:

Teresa K. Woodruff, University Interim President.

Thomas Jeitschko, University Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Michael Cadieux, director of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command - Ground Vehicle Systems Center.

David Gorsich, U.S. Army chief scientist for Ground Vehicle Systems.

Leo Kempel, Dean of the MSU College of Engineering.

• U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow.

• U.S. Senator Gary Peters.

• U.S. Congressman John Moolenaar (video greeting).

• U.S. Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (video greeting).

Bogdan Epureanu, director of the Automotive Research Center of Excellence at the University of Michigan.

Mahmood Haq, director of the MSU Composite Vehicle Research Center and co-primary investigator on the five-year U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems research initiative.

Professor Emeritus Gary Cloud (left) advanced composite materials for decades. He stands with U.S. Senator Gary Peters and Mahmood Haq, now the director of the CVRC and co-investigator on the new $9 million project.
Professor Emeritus Gary Cloud (left) worked on composite materials research at MSU for decades. He stands with U.S. Senator Gary Peters and Mahmood Haq, CVRC director and co-investigator on the new $9 million project with the U.S. Army.

The MSU-U.S. Army initiative will build on MSU’s history and leadership in mobility. MSU Mobility research is focused on developing integrated systems of communication and control for automated vehicles and their environments.

“The partnership between MSU and GVSC will conduct critical research that will help ensure the United States is a leader in autonomous vehicle technology for years to come,” said Rep. John Moolenaar in a video message. “I am proud my work on the House Appropriations Committee was able to fund this effort, because it will create good-paying jobs and grow the STEM field in Michigan.”

Another important part of this new initiative is the opportunities for undergraduate researchers, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who will participate in the program.

“This incredible partnership will help our state continue to play a critical leadership role in the future of mobility. Our military, economy and students will all benefit from this innovative work,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow. “I’m excited to see what groundbreaking technologies happen here.”

Tom Voice, Thomas Jeitschko and David Gorsich chat after Monday's announcement of a $9 million, five-year research project.
Tom Voice, Thomas Jeitschko and David Gorsich chat after Monday's announcement of a $9 million project between MSU and the U.S. Army to advance autonomous technologies.

A few of the priorities for the program this year include developing better stability and control systems for lightweight vehicles on uneven terrain; electric vehicle battery packs that are lightweight, safe and can be used at low temperatures; and antennas and radio frequency electronics for communicating and sensing information within the body of the vehicle. 

“I am so pleased to be able to celebrate this $9 million partnership: the foundation for a five-year effort to build the next generation of lightweight, all-terrain, autonomous vehicles,” said Rep. Elissa Slotkin in a video message. “This is quite literally a celebration of collaboration: collaboration between different levels of government, between different branches of the military and between three stellar Michigan universities.”

The research conducted and technologies developed through this initiative will create the technological edge in autonomous mobility used to ensure national security and strengthen the commercial U.S. automotive industry.

“With the future of warfare being increasingly redefined by the latest technologies, advancing and developing autonomous military ground vehicles will both save lives and allow our service members to complete their missions safely and effectively,” said Sen. Gary Peters, chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and member of the Armed Services Committee. “I was proud to help pass the federal resources needed to kick-start this research initiative, which will bolster MSU and GVSC’s long-running efforts to take ground vehicle technologies to new heights and keep our military on the cutting-edge.”

Story by Emilie Lorditch, courtesy of MSUToday.