PPG announced its partnership with the University of Michigan’s (U-M’s) Mcity, a public-private partnership that brings together industry, government and academia to improve transportation safety, sustainability and accessibility for the benefit of the society. Mcity’s work includes operating the Mcity Test Facility, which is the world’s first purpose-built proving ground for testing autonomous vehicles, connected-vehicle systems and related technologies. PPG is the first paints and coatings manufacturer to join the Mcity partnership.
PPG is developing a broad portfolio of coatings to improve functionality and enable broad deployment of autonomous vehicles. These developments include exterior coatings that enhance vehicle visibility to radar and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems, as well as easy-to-clean coatings that help prevent obstruction of autonomous vehicle sensors. PPG highlighted these technologies at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) at Cobo Center in Detroit.
The Mcity Test Facility, which opened in 2015, was developed by U-M with support from the Michigan Department of Transportation. The facility aims to re-create a range of operating challenges faced by vehicles on the road with simulated urban and suburban environments. Sitting on a 128,000-square metre site on U-M’s North Campus, the facility offers more than 64,000-square metres of roads and traffic infrastructure, including approximately eight lane-kilometres of roads with intersections, traffic signals, street lighting, sidewalks, fire hydrants, simulated buildings and obstacles like construction barriers and pedestrian crash dummies. In addition to operating the test facility, Mcity also funds academic research and works with its partners to deploy connected and automated vehicles in Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan.
“Autonomous vehicle technology offers numerous real-world advantages, and the ability to test such technologies safely and thoroughly is essential for proving the viability of advanced mobility solutions,” said Huei Peng, director, Mcity. “Our state-of-the-art facility offers a controlled environment for manufacturers like PPG to develop and hone the capabilities of autonomous vehicles and related technologies, while also providing them access to a variety of valuable tools and resources. We’re excited to have PPG be part of this journey.”
Added Gary Danowski, PPG vice president, Automotive OEM Coatings, “Specialized coatings will play an integral role in the development of safe and reliable driverless vehicles. We are enthusiastic about this partnership and are always actively seeking additional R&D partners as we continue to explore new possibilities in emerging vehicle technologies.”
The agreement provides PPG with access to resources such as Mcity lab and project data; research and deployment assets; an independent forum of suppliers, manufacturers and end users; university expertise related to legal, regulatory and social issues; and Mcity research review meetings and the annual Mcity Congress.