Munich Re is the first insurance industry member of the University of Michigan's Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) Affiliate program, an arrangement under which the insurer provides funding and research to the group exploring driverless cars and other transportation innovations.

A total of 27 affiliates have signed on to provide $150,000 each,over three years, to participate in selected MTC working groups and research programs, as well as key research reviews and an annual MTC Congress. Affiliates also have selected access to the MTC's off-roadway and on-road test programs.

In addition to Munich Re representing insurance, automotive, vehicle communication devices, chips and hardware, advanced modeling, big data acquisition and intelligent transportation systems companies have joined the program. The secondary support opportunity comes after the Center launched with 14 Leadership Circle companies who pledged $1 million each to found it, with insurance representation from State Farm.

“We are excited to be a part of this initiative, as we believe there are enormous potential benefits for consumers and business from the autonomous and connected vehicle technologies that are being researched and tested through the MTC,” said Tony Kuczinski, President and CEO of Munich Re America, in a statement. “These vehicle technologies have the potential to save lives, reduce accidents, provide fuel economies, and improve road efficiencies. Munich Re America is partnering with our clients, industry, government agencies, and research organizations like the University of Michigan, not just to understand and manage this technology, but to find and embrace the societal and business opportunities that certainly will arise with it.”

MTC currently is developing three complementary on-road vehicle deployments in Ann Arbor and across Southeast Michigan that will serve as testbeds for partners to evaluate the effectiveness of various approaches and explore market opportunities. In addition, it is collaborating with the Michigan Department of Transportation to build Mcity, a full-scale 32-acre cityscape, for testing connected and automated vehicles and systems on campus before they are tried out in real traffic. Mcity is expected to open July 20.

“Connected and automated vehicles hold the potential to dramatically improve the safety, sustainability, and accessibility of our mobility system,” said Dr. Peter Sweatman, Director of MTC, in a statement. “Through this consortium arrangement, we seek to engage the range of cutting-edge technology suppliers, thought leaders, and entrepreneurs required to inform and drive progress toward that transformative vision.”

[See also: Why insurers must be involved with driverless cars]

  

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