MTRAC Advanced Transportation

Funding research applications in advanced transportation materials, robotics and autonomy, sensors, electric vehicle drivetrain, propulsion, software, controls, data, and advanced manufacturing processes

MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation

At a time when we see rapid transformation in how we use transportation, the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation is positioned to catalyze the continued development of transportation technology in today’s world. MTRAC is a statewide program that funds projects which commercialize university research into products or services that shape the future of transportation technology or address poorly met transportation market needs.

This 1-year program accelerates the transition of university research ideas to real-world products and applications in the transportation space by providing up to $100K in funding and access to industry mentors with all awarded projects requiring a cost share from the investigator/institution. The program reinforces the State of Michigan’s Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF), the MEDC and U-M’s commitment to use entrepreneurship as a catalyst for economic growth in the State and beyond.

It is open to researchers in institutions of higher education, hospital systems, as well as non-profit research centers in the State of Michigan. This hub is run by Innovation Partnerships at the University of Michigan and supported by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Funding decisions are made by an external oversight committee consisting of investors, industry personnel and innovation partners.

Focus areas include but are not limited to: mobility solutions; advanced materials; robotics and autonomy; sensors; electric vehicle drivetrain / propulsion; software / controls / data; advanced manufacturing processes.

For more information contact MTRAC Program Director Anne Partington.

Image of MTRAC Metrics

MTRAC Application, Award, & Funding Timeline

2022 Grant Application is now closed.

Full proposal applications are accepted January through March and finalists are notified by April. Finalist teams pitch their idea to the oversight committee in June and funding goes from August 1 – July 31.


Award RFP Submission Link . . . January 10 – March 25, 2022


Award Semi-Finalists Selected . . . April 29, 2022, Notifications by May 3


Semi-Finalist Pitch to Oversight Committee . . . June 3, 2022


MTRAC Awardee Notification . . . June 12, 2022

Funding Cycle . . . August 1, 2022 – July 31, 2023


Webinars . . . Coming Soon


Current Awardees

3D Solar Modules
High power density solar modules, designed for electric vehicle charging and outdoor lighting
Inclement Weather Autonomy
System which extends the operational domain of driver assistance and autonomous driving systems to provide safe vehicle operation in inclement weather
Materially Efficient Light Metal Transport Extrusion
Extrusion design solution which reduces scrap generation by 25-50%
Extreme Fast Charging Batteries
Laser patterned electrodes which enable fast-charging capability in batteries with minimal long term performance degradation
Structural Colors
Process which employs multi-layer nanostructures to replace traditional pigments in a variety of automobile applications (Photo by Joseph Xu)
Traffic Signal Optimization
Artificial intelligence-based, connected vehicle data-driven traffic signal optimization service
Dendrite-Suppressing Battery Separator
Battery separator technology which enables safe fast charging and high specific energy through preemption of dendrite formation
Solar Hydrogen Production
On-site, clean hydrogen production system for fuel cell vehicles (Photo by Joseph Xu)


Past Awardees


A High-Speed Polymer-to-Metal Direct Joining Method

  • A high speed polymer-to-metal direct joining system which enables lower cost, higher performance multi-material structures.
  • Principal Investigator: Fengchao Liu, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

AVGuardian: Automated Safety Compliance Verification for Autonomous Vehicle Software

  • An automated software verification solution which efficiently validates the safety rule compliance of autonomous vehicle operating software.
  • Principal Investigator: Z. Morley Mao, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

Boosting the Accuracy of High-speed 3D Printers

  • A vibration compensation solution which improves printer accuracy without compromising its speed.
  • Principal Investigator: Chinedum Okwudire, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

DM-TJI Ignition for High-Efficiency Gasoline Engines

  • An internal combustion engine ignition system which provides a high level of combustion stability and significantly improves efficiency over a conventional DISI engine over a wide range of engine operation.
  • Principal Investigator: Harold Schock, Michigan State University – East Lansing, MI

Intelligent Flight Companion

  • A high-density drone delivery network which enables an 80% reduction of personal trips.
  • Principal Investigator: Yanchao Liu, Wayne State University – Detroit, MI

Next-Gen Nano-Positioning Stages for High-throughput Semiconductor Metrology

  • A high performance, low cost nano-positioning system which enables a 1000% increase in semiconductor wafer inspection throughput.
  • Principal Investigator: Shorya Awtar, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

Tooling and Billet Designs for Materially Efficient Light Metal Transport Extrusion

  • An extrusion design solution which reduces scrap generation by 25-50%.
  • Principal Investigator:Daniel Cooper, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI


Advanced Wireless Technology

  • An advanced wireless system that provides long coverage range and high data rate connectivity to enable autonomous vehicle data flow and infotainment data flow.
  • Principal Investigator: David Wentzloff, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

All-Weather LIDAR System for Autonomous Vehicles

  • Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) system that provides improved object recognition, particularly in inclement weather, and that packages into various vehicle designs.
  • Principal Investigator: Nicholas Kotov, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

Coaxial Thermophone for Active Noise Control in Vehicles

  • Carbon nanotube thin-film thermophone wrapped coaxially around an exhaust pipe to actively control noise at low system size and weight.
  • Principal Investigator: Andrew Barnard, Michigan Technological University – Houghton, MI

Durable, Elastomeric, Antimicrobial Coatings with Instant and Persistent Efficacy

  • Antimicrobial coatings for high touch interior surfaces (e.g. dashboards, handholds, cup holders, touch screens, tray tables, seats and steering wheel) of transportation vehicles.
  • Principal Investigators: Anish Tuteja & Geeta Mehta, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

High-Resolution RADAR Imaging for Autonomous Vehicles

  • Millimeter-wave distributed RADAR imager for high-resolution imaging which operates in all weather conditions and costs less than existing LIDAR systems.
  • Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Nanzer, Michigan State University – East Lansing, MI

Self-Powered IoT for Smart Manufacturing and Transportation

  • Vibration energy harvester with high power density, wide operation bandwidth, multi-axis operation capability, and low cost for powering Internet of Things (IoT) nodes.
  • Principal Investigator: Ethem Erkan Aktakka, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor


Enhanced Object Recognition LIDARs for Robotics

  • A system to complement the distance ranging of LIDARs with fast and accurate object recognition, which will enable LIDAR point clouds to be efficiently translated into object semantics.
  • Primary Investigator: Nicholas Kotov, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

High Frequency Radar for Automotive Autonomous Applications

  • Sub-millimeter-wave radar system with superior detection resolutions, wide scanning range and minimal size, weight and power consumption.
  • Principal Investigator: Kamal Sarabandi, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

High-Performance Coatings for Engine Cylinder Bores

  • Process to deposit diamond-like coatings onto the inner surface of cylinder bores in order to reduce friction and resultant fuel consumption.
  • Principal Investigators: Thomas Schuelke and Qi Hua Fan, Michigan State University – East Lansing, MI

Multi-Material 3D Printing

  • Method which integrates electrical assemblies into components through micro-additive manufacturing.
  • Principal Investigator: Kira Barton, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

Sensor Fusion & Cognitive Computing Solution for Autonomous Driving

  • Reduced computing power system that converts raw sensor inputs into highly compressed “cues” to enhance the accuracy of real-time decision making tasks such as trajectory prediction and multi-object tracking.
  • Principal Investigator: Zhengya Zhang, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

Variable Coupling Wireless Power Transfer System

  • Wireless power transfer system that achieves high efficiency at a wide range of positions and distances between transmitter and receiver.
  • Principal Investigator: Amir Mortazawi, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

YOWP: Your OWn Planner

  • Optimal travel planning search engine which produces lower costs at minimal effort for given constraints and preferences.
  • Principal Investigator: Barzan Mozafari, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI


Oversight Commitee

The oversight committee consists of industry and investment experts who will provide consultation
and mentoring to awarded teams.

Sara Blackmer
Solyco Advisors

Chuck Cole
University of Michigan

Patti Glaza
Invest Detroit

Brett Hinds
Ford Motor Company

Paul Krajewski

Jeff Makarewicz
Toyota Motor North America R&D

Justin Shroeder 
Roush Enterprises

Bradford Orr
University of Michigan

Clay Phillips

Bryce Pilz
University of Michigan

Chris Stallman
Fontinalis Partners

Manny Stockman
Osage University Partners


MTRAC Hubs Across Michigan