First major industry partnership at the RELLIS Campus
On Tuesday, May 8, 3M Company announced a $1.6 million investment in The Texas A&M University System’s evolving RELLIS Campus. The funding will be used to build a simulated rain range to support research by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and Texas A&M University in connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology, as well as to support related graduate assistantships and faculty research.
Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said that the 3M investment would be central to transforming the former U.S. Air Force Base to a center of advanced problem-solving to develop safe and effective CAV solutions. “3M’s investment will substantially enhance and expand our research capabilities and provide more opportunities for education and training,” Sharp said. “It is also an exciting example of how the A&M System can work with private industry to address the most challenging transportation issues of today and tomorrow.”
The announcement was highlighted at the third annual Texas A&M Transportation Technology Conference.
Envisioned to be 1,000 feet long and 50 feet wide, the simulated rain range will be used to test interactions between vehicle sensors and highway infrastructure under wet conditions for vehicles traveling at speeds of up to 60 mph. The sensors are essential to emerging technologies that enable self-driving cars, and to the systems that enable those cars to connect and communicate with roadway signs, signals and lane markings.
Connected and automated transportation technologies offer great promise for safe and efficient mobility. Central to that promise is that vehicles and infrastructure function reliably under all conditions, including inclement weather. The work supported by 3M’s investment will help to ensure that promise is realized.
3M’s investment will also pay for research equipment and support of graduate students involved in the research. The funding will support two doctoral-level engineering students for three years. 3M recognizes Texas A&M University as an excellent academic institution from which to recruit technical employees for their R&D enterprises.
3M’s investment builds upon a decades-long partnership with TTI. Last year 3M and the A&M System executed a five-year agreement to develop roadway signage and pavement marking technologies that can help to communicate safety information to automated driving systems as well as human drivers.
“With 80 years of experience in transportation safety, this investment is just the latest example of 3M’s commitment that applies science to improve lives around the world,” said Bob Anderson, 3M’s Vice President of Research and Development for its Safety and Graphics Business Group. “3M sees connected and automated vehicle technologies reshaping transportation and mobility, and we are pleased to extend our collaboration with TTI to advance the capabilities of infrastructure to help create the roadways of the future.”
The RELLIS Campus is designed to unite future-focused companies, faculty and students in a unique purpose built to foster applied research, technology development, testing and evaluation, higher education, and career training. The campus includes test beds and proving grounds that focus primarily on robotics, self-driving and connected vehicles, and advanced manufacturing, as well as smart power grids and water systems.
“No testing facility anywhere can match the potential of the RELLIS Campus as we work to build systems that enable safe and reliable communication between cars and our roadways,” said TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree. “And TTI is both proud and grateful to have 3M as a valued partner in that mission.”