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Denso’s Doug Patton

Denso opens automotive research and development lab at Michigan university


Global auto supplier Denso has opened a new research and development lab at the University of Michigan, in the US. 

Denso, which used to be part of Toyota, says the new research facility will “accelerate development of new auto safety technologies and create new research opportunities for engineering students”.

The company says the Denso R&D Lab gives Denso an opportunity to more closely collaborate with the university and North American automotive manufacturers on key safety technologies like machine learning, advanced driver assistance systems, and automated drive.

As part of the lab, 12 university students have been selected to participate in research projects, which will begin this month and run throughout 2017. 

Denso’s Doug Patton
Denso’s Doug Patton

Doug Patton, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Denso’s North American headquarters in Southfield, Michigan, says: “This new lab will provide opportunities for students to conduct research to develop future Automated Drive technologies that will help save lives.

“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. The lab expands Denso’s partnership with the University of Michigan, and extends a Master Alliance Agreement we established in 2012 to sponsor multiple R&D projects.”

The Denso R&D Lab is located at the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex, directly in the hub of research activity for automated drive that includes the Mobility Transformation Center and its affiliated Mcity test facility, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, and the University of Michigan College of Engineering.

Jack Hu, vice president for research at the University of Michigan, says: “As a member of the Mobility Transformation Center’s leadership circle and a sponsor of multiple research projects across campus, Denso has been one of the University’s key industrial partners.

“Their new lab on campus will allow us work even more closely to create further opportunities for innovation and education.”

Denso’s lab is a simulation environment with high-speed computing and high-capacity data storage.

Simulation is conducted on high-performance computers and mechatronic systems, including an advanced driving simulator.

Hardware-in-loop and driving simulators will provide researchers with functional verification of their methods for machine learning for automated drive and what Denso calls “collaborative automated drive”.

Machine learning for automated drive

Researchers will develop machine learning techniques to support automated drive systems in recognizing their environment, which helps them to make intelligent and sophisticated automated driving decisions.

Collaborative automated drive

By sharing sensor information via dedicated short range communication, researchers will study ways to enhance the capabilities of automated driving for CoAD. This technique will increase the perception range of the system – beyond the field of view and line of sight of the on-board sensors.

Researchers will also test safety control algorithms such as forward collision warning, lane-keeping assistance, traffic sign recognition, vehicle-to-x connected driving and pedestrian detection, among others.

In early December, Denso also announced MDrive, a car sharing study in which University of Michigan-Dearborn students will help shape the future of mobility.

With support from Detroit-based NextEnergy, an accelerator of advanced energy and mobility technologies, Denso launched the study to determine what technologies may be needed for a new car-sharing segment.

The students will provide feedback about car sharing and offer insights on helpful or unnecessary features in current car models, says Denso.

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