Michigan Findings for July 2023

Explore some of the most intriguing findings from researchers across Michigan.
Stock photograph by Andrea Piacquadio via pexels.com

In our July 2023 issue, we shared some of the most interesting recent findings from Michigan researchers. These are those findings.

AI Testing Paves the Way for AVs

Autonomous vehicles are a long way from taking over the streets. One major factor holding AVs back is the cost and duration of safety testing, which requires hundreds of millions — even billions — of miles of driving. But a new system developed at the University of Michigan may cut that mileage by 99.9 percent or more.

Using real-world traffic data, it employs artificial intelligence in a mixed-reality setting to repeatedly simulate dangerous situations that occur rarely in real life but are critical for AVs to navigate.

“The safety-critical events — the accidents or the near misses — are very rare in the real world, and oftentime AVs have difficulty handling them,” says Henry Liu, U-M professor of civil engineering.

The developers say the new system could represent a major breakthrough in AV safety testing.

Universities Collaborate to End Opioid Epidemic

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $600,000 to Wayne State University, Michigan State University, and U-M to establish a “technical assistance collaborative” to help local governments address the opioid epidemic.

“Understanding the needs of the impacted communities will be key to the success of this program,” says Douglas Gage, MSU vice president for research. “Our team of world-class researchers and experts in community outreach and engagement will work in partnership with areas hardest hit by the opioid crisis to determine how to best deploy these important resources.”

Like Oil and Water

The true impact of offshore drilling is even worse than we thought, according to a study led by U-M researchers.

The team found that the United States’ largest offshore fossil fuel production basin, the Gulf of Mexico, has twice the climate impact as official government estimates indicate. The study included direct measurements of methane and CO2 emissions taken from an airplane flying over the gulf and assessed climate impact using “carbon intensity,” which the researchers calculated by determining the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per unit of energy produced.

“What we found is that a certain type of shallow-water platform had large methane emissions that elevated total greenhouse gas emissions for the entire Gulf of Mexico,” says U-M professor Eric Kort. “So if we can direct mitigation efforts at those sources to address the problem, it could have a huge positive effect.”

This story is from the July 2023 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.