Autonomous driving is more than just the cars. The technologies in vehicles and infrastructure must be tested and validated, and that’s the focus of the American Center for Mobility being built in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Soraya Kim, who is Canadian raised and educated, is its chief innovation officer, currently focusing on funding and investment to build the 500-plus-acre (200-plus hectares) facility, about 40 kilometres west of Detroit. Her other project is to educate the workforce — those who will work with autonomous vehicles, and those who will be displaced by them — and what training both sides will need, now and in the future.
The first phase is under way.
“We started construction in May on the highway-speed loop, which will open in December,” Kim said. “We will be building a technology park to house companies and build an ecosystem for this mobility space.
A memorandum of understanding between Ontario and Michigan calls for sharing of technology for autonomous, connected and electric vehicles.
“We want to create pipelines to hubs of innovation, whether they’re in Toronto, or Seoul [South Korea], or Silicon Valley, for technologies to showcase at our tech park,” she said. “That’s farther along, but it’s under my purview.”
Born in Seoul, Kim moved to Canada and graduated from the University of Toronto. She practised corporate law in Toronto before working with General Motors in Michigan as it separated from Delphi. From there, she focused on identifying and validating new automotive technologies for the University of Texas in Austin.