Testing of Autonomous Maritime Vehicles to come to Michigan Tech

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Planet M

Michigan Tech is one of the latest universities selected to participate in PlanetM’s research.

Rachel Dick, Lode Writer

In a press release from Tuesday, Oct. 6, PlanetM, an initiative aiming to improve transportation mobility in the state of Michigan, announced a partnership with the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) at Michigan Tech.

This new partnership will make the GLRC a global resource for researchers, governments, universities and companies to test autonomous surface and subsurface vehicles in a freshwater ecosystem through the GLRC’s Marine Autonomy Research Site (MARS), bringing a designated maritime testing site for automated technologiesthe first of its kind—to the Upper Peninsula. 

Other universities in Michigan, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Kettering University in Flint, are already partnered with PlanetM to serve as testing sites, but the GLRC is unique for its access to Lake Superior, allowing companies to test both terranean and maritime vessels.

Two start-ups, Canada’s Shift Environmental Technologies (Shift), and Michigan-based Strange Development will be the first to receive funding from the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME), to test their technologies at the GLRC facility. 

Shift Environmental Technologies will use its funding to test its maritime autonomous vessel, which can provide transportation of materials, assist in the clean-up of aquatic ecosystems, and aid in search and rescue missions. At the GLRC, the Shift vessel will perform critical tests within Lake Superior and the Keweenaw waterway.

Meanwhile, Strange Development plans to use its grant money to test its REVolution® technology. REVolution® technology aims to increase performance while simultaneously reducing emissions of two-stroke engines. Strange Development will test its technology at Advanced Power Systems Research Center at Michigan Tech, through the Keweenaw Research Center. 

PlanetM hopes to provide more testing grants in addition to the two provided to Shift and Strange Development. These testing grants provide access to the unique testing grounds found right here at Michigan Tech and in the Keweenaw region to small and mid-sized companies. 

It is hopeful that this partnership will increase the accessibility of testing and research opportunities for companies around the globe, while maintaining the state of Michigan’s status as a hotbed for mobility technology, and furthering Michigan Tech’s role as a community resource.