Innovation and Resurgence: Detroit


ITS America is a great place to hear from industry leaders on the current and future state of mobility technology. And, what’s more, it’s a great place to see some of those technologies in action.

ITS America's 2018 Annual Meeting is an ideal place to connect and foster relationships that will ensure future success. You’ll soon find out there is no better place to be than Detroit this June!

The Auto Office is very pleased to have supported some of the industry’s newest, most important centers for technology innovation. The American Center for Mobility in nearby Ypsilanti Township provides 500+ acres of purpose built, real-world testing of automated, connected and autonomous vehicle technologies. It is already one of the leading test centers in the world, and will continue to build out unique capabilities in the years ahead.

Similarly, Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) and the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) in Corktown, Detroit, are leading the way in developing lightweight materials and manufacturing processes that will help cars of the future save energy, extend range, and be safer. These centers, partially funded by the US Departments of Defense and Energy in partnership with the state of Michigan, are a prime example of public-private partnerships driving innovation and commercialization, in addition to delivering workforce development and training programs to ensure a next-generation talent pipeline.

As you’ll see, Detroit is a city on the rise. The economic and cultural resurgence has earned praised from around the world. During your visit, you’ll find many great places to explore. There are two I would highly recommend.

First: Detroit Institute of Arts. Most of the world’s best loved cities have major art museums that inspire. Detroit is no different. I think visitors who have never been will be very pleasantly surprised at the volume, breadth and depth of the collection. You’ll find the museum size to be impressive, but manageable. Inside, not only will you find works by masters like Van Gough, Degas, and Picasso, but also a great mix of new and old, including artifacts from ancient Egypt. It is truly a must see attraction.

Second: Take in a show at the Fox Theater. This venue is one of the most lavishly decorated entertainment venues in the world.  Awe-inspiring site lines and great acoustics. It’s also across Woodward Avenue from Comerica Park, so you might even be able to fit in a Tigers baseball game.

Eric Shreffler is the Managing Director, Auto Office; Michigan Economic Development Corp.

ITS America and Transportation 2.0

Shailen and family.jpg

In my decade of being a senior leader in transportation in the United States, serving in three states and in the federal government, we have seen a significant change in how Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) are defined. In the beginning, it meant signals coordinating and providing "real time" information to travelers. It then progressed to Traffic Management Centers that could manage the flow of our systems.

The vehicles themselves have changed dramatically. In 2010, I experienced an ITS demonstration of a "connected vehicle" that would shake the driver’s seat if I tried to merge with a car in my blind spot. In 2014, at the ITS World Congress in Detroit, I was with another DOT director in the back seat of a car as a driver took us on I-75. The driver merged into traffic and took his hands off the steering wheel - the future had arrived. Four years have passed since that demonstration, which feels like an eternity in this brave new world of transportation technology. 

We’re coming back to Detroit in 2018 for another ITS America meeting, this time for our annual conference. What will we see there in June, and what do we mean by the theme “Transportation 2.0.”? Where the 2014 World Congress was all about demonstrations of what could be, this year you'll be able to see actual deployments of technology at work - public and private sector innovation working to achieve our collective goals of saving lives and making people's lives better. 

In addition to the deployments and demonstrations (yes, we've got those too - the future continues to beckon), you'll hear from executives in the public, private and research sectors explain how they see the ongoing transformation of transportation. On our first day, we’re really looking forward to hearing from Heidi King, Deputy Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Beyond that, Governor Snyder of Michigan and Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado will host a bipartisan roundtable to look at what the future may hold for "Smart States" around the country. Why have they been champions of innovation and how can Transportation 2.0 help them solve big challenges? 

Solving challenges in the 21st century requires partnerships, which is why we’re bringing together leaders from the private and public sectors to give a multi-disciplinary perspective on Mobility 2.0. We'll host an OEM roundtable with senior executives from Ford, General Motors, MOIA and the city of Detroit, who will give us a sense of how technology innovations are changing the transportation landscape.

We also know that Transportation 2.0 must include a robust and relentless focus on cyber security to ensure systems are safely connected. No one person or entity owns the entire system, so we must take a multi-disciplinary approach to mitigate risk.  We will hear from officials heading up efforts in Michigan and New York City, among others.

The pace of change will always accelerate. We must continue the dialogue if we expect to solve today’s problems and avoid creating new issues for the future. I hope you will join hundreds of leaders from the private, public and research sectors as we seek to safely deploy technology to save lives and make people's lives better. Together, we can realize our vision of a better future transformed by intelligent mobility.

Shailen Bhatt is President and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America


Making Connections: Michigan's Mobility Business


I’m never surprised at being surprised.

That’s the feeling after watching the demos at the ITS America Annual Meeting.

And, this year, I know I’ll be blown away again by the impressive blend of creativity, engineering and technology on display.

In my role at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, I oversee three programs – PlanetM, Pure Michigan Business Connect, and International Trade. The emergence of mobility technologies and impact on the transportation industry will profoundly impact all three of these areas.

And, in Michigan, we’re not only up to the challenge, we have a plan in place to support innovation among entrepreneurs and businesses riding the wave of the transportation frontier.

At this truly historical time, we are fortunate to come together to share ideas and conversations about the mobility transformation. Perhaps more than any other state, Michigan is playing a vital role in bringing together people, technologies and businesses.

We’re focusing on making connections for global companies with Michigan’s mobility assets (end-customers, testing sites, universities, startups, suppliers). In addition, we look to help mobility companies get connected to new technology deployment opportunities.

Pure Michigan Business Connect has brought together Michigan purchasers with suppliers to more than $5 billion in new purchase orders from some of the world’s largest companies. And, finally, our State of Michigan’s International Trade Office, which connects Michigan companies to export opportunities in foreign markets.

While other states have progressive mobility-focused legislation, and world class testing sites, no other state has a business development program solely focused on mobility/CAVs. And, no other state offers a program like Pure Michigan Business Connect that connects the state’s companies to over 350 in-state and global purchasers.  


Beyond all the conversations about mobility, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Detroit. For those of you looking to explore when you’re in town, I’d suggest checking out the views of the city from Belle Isle Park (designed by the guy who designed Central Park in NYC). The Detroit Riverfront is great for a morning or evening jog. As far as meals, so many new restaurants, where should I begin. If you like Asian fusion, Peterboro is great. For a good steak, Prime and Proper is phenomenal. Central Kitchen, Selden Standard, PARC, Ottava Via are also solid choices.

Trevor Pawl is the Vice President, PlanetM, International Trade & Procurement Programs, Michigan Economic Development Corporation

Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder: Shaping the Next Transportation Frontier

Detroit recently launched a new campaign to let visitors know it is Go Time in Detroit. That message is also true of the innovation and collaboration that is happening in Detroit and across Michigan around the future of mobility.

We are proud to be the capital of the global automotive industry. While we are well known for putting the world on wheels more than a century ago, today we are committed to embracing a new legacy as a leader in the future of mobility. We call our mobility ecosystem — and the collective of initiatives it encompasses —PlanetM.


 There is a convergence happening with the IT and the automotive industries coming together to create a new mobility industry. Here in Michigan, we are committed to building an ecosystem where business, research and entrepreneurship can thrive and shape the next transportation frontier with autonomous and connected vehicles.

As residents change the way they live, travel and use services, many of the technologies that are changing these industries will be conceptualized, tested and created in Michigan. We also are at the forefront of putting policies in place that will serve as incubators for this critical industry. Michigan was one of the first states to legalize self-driving vehicles on public roads and we are proud to be a global leader when it comes to initiating policies and regulations around self-driving vehicles.

When it comes to connected and autonomous vehicles, collaboration is critical. The technology is developing more quickly than industry or government can keep up, and we need safety to go hand-in-hand with progress.

At ITS World Congress in Montreal late last year, Michigan led a symposium that allowed global leaders in mobility to share best practices, and to learn more about how testing facilities can work together to advance the technologies surrounding connected and automated vehicle development. What we learned was that collectively we are doing wonderful things but that our work is far from done.

That is why I am excited to welcome you to Detroit for the 2018 ITS America Annual Meeting — to keep making progress on what we accomplished in Montreal and accelerate that progress. We need to get the people who will determine how to do technical, legal and regulatory standards across the U.S. and across the world collaborating for success.

Come to Detroit to experience the excitement, revitalization and renewed energy found throughout the nation’s comeback city. But also come ready to roll up your sleeves and keep the advancements we have already made accelerating forward. I look forward to seeing you in June.

Rick Snyder is the Governor of the State of Michigan.

Mark L. Reuss, ITS America 2018 Keynote: Making "Every Day" Vehicles Fun


One of the best moments during the planning of  ITS America events is the "yes" - receiving confirmation from a requested keynote. We are thrilled with our speakers this year, and can't wait to hear from one particular leader in transportation: Mark L. Reuss, EVP of General Motors Company.  

Mark will kick off our Wednesday, June 6th program at 9:00 AM in the COBO Center.  As Mary Barra, Chairwoman and CEO of General Motors noted: Mark "has a true passion for cars and inspires us through his determination to create the best vehicles." 

Interested in learning more about Mark? Check out this May 2017 Automotive News feature.

It’s Go Time Detroit

You have heard the news about Detroit – its resurgence, its transformation, its comeback. But now, it’s go time Detroit. And we can’t wait for you to see it for yourself at the 2018 ITS America Annual Meeting.

We are proud of our automotive heritage, but you can feel a newfound energy moving through The D. From cyclists pedaling through the streets using the MoGo bike share system, to the QLine, the city’s new streetcar system, zipping up and down Woodward Avenue – Detroit is alive with a vibe you can’t find anywhere else. What better place to host the 2018 ITS America Annual Meeting?

The development stretches beyond transportation and connectivity. It includes The District Detroit, an entirely new 50-block neighborhood encompassing the world-class sports facility, Little Caesars Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings and Pistons. The District Detroit represents the greatest density of professional sports teams in one downtown core in the country.

If you’re the foodie-type, indulge in Detroit’s nationally trending dining scene, where there’s a collection of newcomers and staples alike. Explore the heart of the city, Campus Martius Park, or walk Detroit’s beautiful international riverfront.

In Detroit, it’s go time and we are thrilled to host ITS America. We are retooled, revved, re-energized and ready to show off – and we can’t wait to see you in The D.

Larry Alexander is the President & CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Part of the Solution

At some point in the mid-90’s, I received the most coveted gift an ex-urban teenager could hope for: a Virginia driver’s license and all the freedom afforded to it by law.  Alas, included in the deal was not the sleek speedster of teen movie dreams, but instead a primer-gray 1985 Dodge Caravan, the third row bench seat removed. (My parents assumed this modification would lend itself to less teens piling into the minivan. I plead the fifth on how accurate the assumption turned out to be.)

I didn’t love driving an un-air conditioned “mom-mobile” at 17, but I didn’t hate it, either. A car was a car, and it reliably transported me to the places I needed to be: sports practices, friends houses, summer jobs, boring parties.  It required few repairs, which was a good thing, since I had no money. There was very little public transportation available in my hometown, far west of D.C. proper - at the time, the closest Metro stop was still a 40 minute drive east.

  Teenage Lindsay (This was not my first car.)

Teenage Lindsay (This was not my first car.)

The story of the minivan is uneventful. It lived a happy life, with a fairly responsible high school driver. The car to follow, however -  a beautiful European sedan with leather seats  - met an untimely death. I still mourn it’s loss. It was the first car I ever loved, and the first car I ever crashed. It would not be the last.

Jeff Davis, Senior VP at ITS America, has recommended changing our organization’s main mission to “Keeping Lindsay Off the Road.” He’s only semi-joking.  I am a notoriously not-so-great driver. I listen to music too loudly. I am not particularly aggressive, but I am certainly impulsive, especially when it comes to lane changes. My kids distract me with snack requests and general bickering. I don’t look at my smartphone while behind the wheel, but I’ll admit I have committed that grievous sin in the past. I am a daydreamer, and poor with directions. I gravitate toward used cars that could be better maintained. That first automobile love of my life was t-boned when it’s electrical system failed, mid-left turn. Coasting through a yellow light in a non-operational car while a pick-up truck bears down on you? Twenty years later, I still get the shivers.

I have been a part of multiple fender benders. I have broken down on sides of highways, urban and rural roads, and in the parking lot of a questionable tourist trap near Myrtle Beach, SC.  I have had an airbag deploy. My very first date in college involved a minor car accident.  I have rear-ended; I have been rear-ended. I witnessed a horrific motorcycle crash 4 years ago, the memory of which makes me cringe. The second car I owned had an unfortunate post-market alarm system connected directly to the battery - the only way to disable the sound was to pop the hood and pull out a series of mystery wires. There was the crushed front end of an SUV. There was another sedan, hit twice in two days (neither my fault!) I have shattered numerous tail lights, and slightly fewer headlights.

The years have passed, the cars have changed, the insurance rates have skyrocketed. To be very clear:  I’m not proud of any of this. It’s terrifying, and it’s a little shameful.

All this said, I like to think there is good news on the horizon. The deployment of intelligent transportation - connected and autonomous vehicles, infrastructure modernization, traffic management, MaaS - is primarily an issue of safety. I know promoting the convenience, efficiency, sustainability, and technological advancements of the transportation sector is important (and the success of ITS pays my mortgage, I suppose), but I’m no longer just any ol’ bad driver, or employee of any ol’ association  -  I’m also a mom of two impulsive sons, boys who will one day crave that very same square of plastic I received at 16.

Or… maybe not. Perhaps my kids will happily jump into an automated shuttle that takes them wherever they please. Maybe they will hop on the nearest dockless bike. Maybe a driver’s license won’t carry the same kind of cache it did for a teen in the early '90s. Maybe my sons will still get licenses, and the luxury of advanced vehicles outfitted with technology to help avoid the situations their mother has not. Hopefully, they will make it well into adulthood without having to collect their insurance card and registration for a brief meeting with law enforcement on the side of the road.

My heart seizes at the notion of anything worse.

ITS America President and CEO Shailen Bhatt has a refrain: “We save lives. We make people’s lives better.” That is, ultimately, the very core of the organization’s mission, and something I repeat to myself throughout the workday.  In Detroit’s COBO Center June 4-7, our 2018 Annual Meeting attendees have remarkable programming to choose from, much of it focusing on how ITS is saving lives, and making those lives much, much better.

Although agenda planning is still underway for our “Transportation 2.0” event (call for papers and sessions closes March 1st!), historically, ITS America conferences have showcased a variety of sessions dealing with transportation safety:

  • Designing Safe, Useful and Trustworthy Automated Vehicles (ITS America Pittsburgh, 2015)

  • Safety Benefits of Integrated DOT/911 Dispatch System (ITS America Pittsburgh, 2015)

  • Bicycle Detection - Achieving “Vision Zero” Success (ITS America Pittsburgh, 2015)

  • Connected Vehicle Benefits for the Emergency Responder (ITS America San Jose, 2016)

  • Using ITS to Protect Motorists Against Wrong Way Drivers (ITS World Congress, 2017)

Over the next few weeks, you’ll be reading more on this blog about how topics at the Detroit conference - cyber security, traffic operations, vehicle connectivity, ride sharing, infrastructure improvements, and more - are contributing to a safer future for drivers and pedestrians.  According to NHTSA, 37,461 people were killed in 34,436 crashes in 2016, an average of 102 per day. There is a significant human cost for delaying the deployment of ITS technologies. I will breathe a sigh of relief for myself, for my friends, for my family, and for the world swirling around me when I have assistance in safely maneuvering a 5,000 pound steel behemoth.  Or better yet, when I don’t have to maneuver a car at all.

I hope to be a part of the saving. I hope to be a part of the solution. I hope to see you in Detroit.

Lindsay Shelton-Gross is Vice President of Membership and Marketing with ITS America.  Tweet all Detroit restaurant and museum recommendations to @lsheltongross.

See for Yourself: The Spirit of Detroit

On the surface, Detroit, Michigan is a perfect location to host the 2018 ITS America Annual Meeting, in recognition of our automotive heritage and leadership in developing the technologies that define America’s transportation future. What lies beneath the surface is a regional bond dedicated to reshaping a great American city. That is the Detroit I am so anxious for every participant to see - something we like to refer to as the “Spirit of Detroit.”

Spirit of Detroit.jpg

Over a half-century ago, Detroit was one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. Buoyed by our automotive industry and strong manufacturing-based economy, the Motor City was cosmopolitan, a place where families came to establish roots, where entrepreneurs came to seek their fortune, and artists to showcase their talents. That vibrancy was reflected in the Spirit of Detroit statue that was dedicated in 1958. The bronze figure was the work of renowned sculpture Marshall Fredericks and stands today on Woodward Avenue as a symbol of our character.     

Much has changed in the world over that time but, close to home, one constant remains; the pride of our residents. You see it in the faces and hear it in the voices of Metro Detroiters as we talk of our community. As someone who was born and raised here, I can assure you the experience of attending this Annual Meeting will leave you with lasting impressions of the grandeur of Detroit.  

Certainly you have heard stories about the economic struggles of Detroit and we, as a community, are working diligently to position ourselves for a prosperous future. And the recovery is well on its way.  This community certainly owes a great deal to ITS America for choosing the Motor City. I have no doubt that their decision will be rewarded.  Simply put, that’s the “Spirit of Detroit.”   

Rob Morosi is a Communications Specialist for the Michigan Department of Transportation and the chairperson for the 2018 Annual Meeting Communications Committee

ITS America Heads to Motown

The 2018 ITS Annual Meeting America Planning Committees are excited to welcome attendees of the 2018 Annual Meeting to Detroit, MI this June.

Check back as we hear from Michigan natives and transportation professionals from PlanetM, University of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and ITS America staff and members as we prep for our best annual conference ever: #ITSDetroit2018