SOUTHFIELD – Five Lawrence Technological University students and LTU computer science professor CJ Chung will work with a Korean auto parts company and a Russian tech giant to create a taxi service from Detroit’s TCF Center to downtown Detroit hotels for the 2020 North American International Auto Show in June.
LTU will assist Hyundai MOBIS, the parts and service arm of the Korean automaker, and the Russian technology company Yandex, in the development of 10 four-passenger sedans in the largest demonstration to date of Yandex’s robotic taxis in the United States. The vehicles will be programmed to take passengers to their destinations, although there will be a driver who could take control if needed.
The Yandex-MOBIS-LTU collaboration was one of five corporate mobility challenge projects announced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Oct. 21. The projects will offer autonomous transportation around downtown Detroit during the auto show’s media preview, industry preview, and the public show, a period scheduled to stretch from June 6 to June 21, 2020.
“We’ll be evaluating the on-demand riding service through a mobile app and testing their vehicles, collecting data, and writing a report on the vehicles and the service,” Chung said.
Sponsored by MOBIS, Chung and his students have been working for more than three years on autonomous vehicle software—code that is now integrated into an autonomous two-passenger electric vehicle that is regularly seen in testing around LTU’s Southfield campus.
Chung said the taxis would follow predetermined routes from the auto show at TCF Center to and from downtown Detroit hotels and entertainment venues.
“Mobis is excited for this opportunity to expand our collaboration with LTU, Professor Chung, and his students. The Mobility Challenge is the perfect venue to work together to demonstrate the exceptional capabilities of Yandex’s autonomous taxi system in the demanding NAIAS environment,” said Doug MacKenzie, senior manager of Autonomous Vehicle Advanced Engineering at Mobis North America.
“Building and deploying 10 of our world-class self-driving cars for the Detroit Auto show is an exciting opportunity to advance our tech in one of the world’s leading automotive hubs,” said Preston Carey, senior vice president of International Business Development at Yandex. “We look forward to collaborating with Hyundai Mobis and Professor Chung and his students at Lawrence Tech, an institution that has contributed invaluable knowledge to the automotive industry in Michigan for decades. Yandex has a deep commitment to supporting education through our work with universities, and we’re excited to be working with the team at LTU.”
The governor’s NAIAS 2020 Michigan Mobility Challenge was announced in May at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference. The challenge required each mobility project to have an academic partner. The challenge is being managed by the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s mobility unit, PlanetM.