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Denso Looks To University Of Michigan To Open A R&D Lab

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【Summary】Denso, one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world, announced plans to open a research and development lab at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, MI.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jan 13, 2017 11:05 AM PT

Automakers aren't the only companies in the industry looking for ways to improve driver assistance systems. Denso, one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world that's partly owned by Toyota – a company that recently unveiled its Concept-i at this year's Consumer Electronics Show – revealed that it would open a research and development lab at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. 

Denso Forges Onwards With Universities

The plant was announced at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, MI. According to a press release, the new R&D lab will be used "to accelerate development of new auto safety technologies and create new research opportunities for engineering students."

The new lab, as the Detroit Free Press points out, will be used to create more partnerships with other automotive manufacturers, as well as the University of Michigan, to develop new technology that focuses on safety, autonomous driving, and advanced driver assistance systems.

According to the press release, 12 students from the University of Michigan have already been selected to participate in research projects that will start this month and go throughout the entire year.

"This new lab will provide opportunities for students to conduct research to develop future Automated Drive technologies that will help save lives," stated Doug Patton, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at the company's headquarters in Southfield, MI.

The new lab expands on the automotive supplier's existing partnerships with universities. Late last year, Denso commenced a car-sharing study on the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus, reports Automotive News. The study, called MDrive, allows Denso to look into what type of technology is needed in future cars, especially when it pertains to car-sharing services.

"We are excited to open the Denso R&D Lab at the University of Michigan, in the heart of the global transportation technology research hub for autonomous drive right here in Michigan," said Patton.

The new lab, according to Denso, is an environment where the supply company has high-capacity data storage and high-speed computing to conduct simulation tests. Thanks to high-performance computers and mechatronic systems, which include an advanced driving simulator, Denso will be able to conduct various simulations. Researchers also have access to hardware-in-loop simulators that will help provide them with a method to verify their advancements towards Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and Automated Drive.  

Denso didn't state how much money it invested in the new R&D lab.

Denso Has History In Michigan

The automotive supply company has made numerous investments in Michigan in the past. Back in 2013, Denso stated that it planned to invest roughly $150 million in Battle Creek and Southfield, MI, reports the Detroit Free Press. In 2014, the company announced that it would be investing $10 million more into its facilities in Southfield, MI.

The students at the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus have access to three Ford Focus electric cars, which were provided by Ford, to use in the U.S. Denso will be able to collect data on the vehicles through on-board equipment, including cameras. After driving the vehicles, the students are required to complete surveys and participate in discussion boards to explore the future of car-sharing, reports Automotive News.

Michigan has quickly become the go-to state for various companies and automakers to test self-driving cars, as General Motors recently expanded its testing and deployment facilities in the state, as well.


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