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Social Innovation

Technology at the Wheel

Technology at the Wheel

  • Transportation
  • U.S.A.

Technology at the Wheel: How Hitachi and the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center Are Shaping the Future of Autonomous Driving

Mounting Interest in Autonomous Mobility Technologies

Hitachi has been improving the way people live and work for more than 100 years and has introduced the most groundbreaking advancements in automobile safety, comfort, convenience and security. Along the way, Hitachi has maintained its commitment to social innovation, progress and the betterment of society, and this commitment has never been more important than today, when technology’s impact is more powerful than ever before.

Autonomous Mobility Technologies


Among the automotive technologies that are top of mind for consumers, customers and society are the autonomous mobility technologies that power connected and autonomous vehicles. The new lifestyles, priorities and demographic shifts behind the demand for these vehicles range from increased safety and efficiency concerns to elevated cyber-security and environmental awareness. Yet, for some, especially those who came of age during the digital era, the demand also stems from their fascination with the latest technologies as well as the positive impact these technologies are having on their lives.

At a time when vehicles continue to become smarter and more communicative, and market and societal demands grow in sophistication, Hitachi is developing next-generation technologies that assist connected and autonomous features in performing an even broader range of driving capabilities, from lane changing and parking to braking and 360-degree sensing.

Raising the Bar for Testing with Mcity

To ensure that the capabilities of autonomous mobility technologies are tested and evaluated under the safest and most effective conditions, Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas and Hitachi America, Ltd. joined the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) as an affiliate member in 2015. The MTC is a public-private partnership among industry, government and academia dedicated to advancing the development of connected and autonomous vehicles. At the core of the MTC initiative is Mcity, the world’s first purpose-built facility for testing advanced mobility vehicles and technologies.


Technology at the Wheel: Case Study, Overview

Technology at the Wheel: Case Study, Overview

Mcity is located on the University of Michigan’s North Campus in Ann Arbor and sits on a 32-acre site, with more than 16 acres devoted to roads and infrastructure. The facility was specifically designed to test and evaluate the capabilities and overall performance of connected and autonomous vehicles in preparation for their mass-market introduction. Its controlled test environment recreates, in real-life urban and suburban settings, road situations, including the most at-risk, that vehicles can encounter.

Building Confidence, Raising Comfort Levels and Fostering Trust

Autonomous Mobility Ecosystem


The autonomous mobility ecosystem is as dynamic as it is complex. It creates an enhanced driving experience, along with a complete range of benefits. However, it also raises understandable challenges and concerns, many first-of-their-kind, among consumers, customers and the general public.

Technology at the Wheel: Case Study, Challenges

Technology at the Wheel: Case Study, Challenges

Stephan Keese, senior partner, Roland Berger

The safety component of autonomous mobility technology is never underestimated, and once consumers and the general public recognize that the technology is available and safe, and can genuinely improve quality of life, acceptance and trust will arrive very quickly.

Stephan Keese, senior partner, Roland Berger

Reaching Higher Levels of Innovation through Collaboration

Innovative thinking is playing as great a role in resolving safety- and trust-related challenges as it is in developing autonomous mobility technologies. In the process, gaps between available technology and consumer, customer and societal needs are being identified.

Hitachi is aligning and combining its control technology and knowledge across several industries, with Hitachi Group companies working together on these new mobility technologies. For example, Clarion, a leading in-vehicle information-solutions provider, is sharing its expertise in sensor technology, high-definition cameras, SurroundEye Cameras, Electronic Control Units (ECUs) and Telematics Control Units (TCUs).

Technology at the Wheel: Case Study, Solutions with Clarion

Technology at the Wheel: Case Study, Solutions with Clarion

Innovation and collaboration are also reaching beyond Hitachi Group companies to include Roland Berger, a global strategy consulting firm. Roland Berger is helping to form partnerships between different suppliers and segments of the value chain – and to prepare the automotive industry for the groundbreaking changes and benefits that will accompany the widespread introduction of connected and autonomous vehicles.

The results of such an all-encompassing merger of resources and capabilities are creative strategies and business models, new partnerships, and a collaborative spirit that rise above individual approaches to ensure safety, instill public trust and help make autonomous driving a part of daily life.

Paul Lachner, president, Clarion Corporation of America

Hitachi and Clarion’s combined resources and expertise support the two stages of autonomous driving – sense and control. As collaborators, we are working with government agencies, regulators and insurance companies, and most importantly our automotive customers, to bring autonomous mobility to next-generation vehicle owners and users.

Paul Lachner, president, Clarion Corporation of America

Meeting Safety and Trust Expectations with Mcity Testing Facility

Trust Expectations with Mcity Testing Facility


Safety concerns and trust issues associated with connected and autonomous vehicles cannot be resolved exclusively in a laboratory. They also require real-world, neutral testing in a facility with real-time feedback that impacts the technology’s development and ultimate success. Hitachi’s affiliation with the University of Michigan, specifically through the university’s Mobility Transformation Center, provides such a facility with Mcity.

Technology at the Wheel: Case Study, Solutions with MCITY

Technology at the Wheel: Case Study, Solutions with MCITY

Dr. Huei Peng, director, University of Michigan Mobility Transformation

The University of Michigan has more than a 100-year history of innovative research in the automotive and manufacturing sectors, and Mcity continues that history by bringing different resources and expertise under one roof and applying them to autonomous mobility technologies.

Dr. Huei Peng, director, University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center, and the Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Mcity accelerates connected and autonomous vehicle innovation by providing an environment where automotive, technology and insurance industry leaders; national, state and local governments; and academic institutions can test new solutions and ideas before introducing them to the public.

Mcity accomplishes more than testing single-vehicle performance. In fact, it stands out among traditional facilities by testing performance in the most vulnerable, eventful, unpredictable and at-risk road situations, such as interactions with pedestrians and bicyclists, in a repeatable and reliable way that cannot be easily replicated in the real world. It also provides a rare platform for the education of a new generation of students and other up-and-coming innovators who can continue the autonomous mobility technology process.

Making a Difference in the Lives of Consumers and Society

Since Hitachi launched their initiative to improve the driving experience with autonomous mobility technologies, and create solutions for the betterment of society, clear results and benefits have emerged.

Hitachi Clarion


Mcity has distinguished itself among traditional testing facilities in the US. It provides an environment where innovation leaders bring their collective experience, resources and expertise to realize the full potential of connected and autonomous vehicles that will revolutionize the automotive industry and transportation systems. Mcity also demonstrates the strides that can be made when a testing facility exceeds existing boundaries, goals and expectations through innovation, creativity and collaboration.

Autonomous mobility technologies, and the progress being made at Mcity, are delivering positive business results for Hitachi and its customers. Mcity’s “what if” driving scenarios help customers understand the full extent and potential of the new technologies being tested, which could potentially translate into new business opportunities. The company can also further develop connected and autonomous vehicle technologies that could assist drivers in even the most unexpected emergencies.

Technology at the Wheel: Case Study, Results

Technology at the Wheel: Case Study, Results

Hitachi recognizes that connected and autonomous vehicles are a vital part of the future for the automotive industry and society, and is committed to the innovation needed to achieve full automation. As part of the company’s commitment, and through its relationship with the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center and Mcity, Hitachi is progressing toward autonomous driving technologies that will deliver new levels of safety, reliability, efficiency, comfort, convenience and security that will benefit not only the next generation of vehicle owners and users but society as well.

Carrie Morton, Deputy Director, University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center

Mcity will have a transformational effect on society by serving as a platform for envisioning how we move people and goods in a way that has not been seen in the last 100 years.

Carrie Morton, Deputy Director, University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center

To learn more about Hitachi’s development of autonomous mobility technologies or the Mcity testing facility, please contact the team member(s) listed below:

Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas (HIAMS AM):
Amanda Hayes | amanda.hayes@hitachi-automotive.us, 248.444.6534

University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center/Mcity:
Sue Carney | smcarney@umich.edu, 734.615.6743