Cassie the robot at Angell Hall

Robotics Rising At U-M

U-M partners with Ford Motor Co. to elevate robotics initiatives on North Campus

MAGIC robot explores campus
Team Michigan’s award-winning MAGIC (Multi Autonomous Ground-robotic International Challenge) robot explores the Eda U. Gerstacker Grove on North Campus. New technology enables the robot to autonomously analyze the environment and determine its optimal path.
Cassie the Robot
U-M’s bipedal robot Cassie Blue, built by Agility Robotics, sports five motors in each leg, four hours of battery life, and weighs only 73 pounds. Cassie utilizes code from its predecessor, MARLO.

A new facility collaboration with Ford Motor Company is giving rise to an all-new slate of walking, driving, and gravity-defying robots on North Campus.

Ford remains one of the University of Michigan’s most dynamic and longstanding corporate partnerships, and its $15 million gift during the Victors for Michigan campaign helped establish a new facility for robotics research at U-M. Named the Ford Motor Company Robotics Building in recognition of the company’s support, this four-story, state-of-the-art facility will be an epicenter of future innovation and technology. “We thank Ford for this exceptional investment in the future—the future of robotic technologies and in the coming generations of visionary faculty members, students, and industry engineers who will make these advances real,” said Alec D. Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering. “This gift reinforces Michigan’s leadership position in enabling the future of robotics.”

Ford and U-M have a decades-long partnership. The company is the single largest corporate donor to the university and adds to its philanthropic legacy with this facility collaboration. The Ford Motor Company Robotics Building will house classrooms, offices, a startup-style open collaboration area, and tailored lab space for a variety of robotic technologies. Additionally, the building will include a three-story fly zone for autonomous aerial vehicles, an outdoor obstacle course for walking robots, and a high-bay garage space for self-driving cars. Ford will also lease the fourth floor of the facility to house a custom research laboratory—the company’s first laboratory on any university campus in the country.

Ford’s presence on campus will open new doors for students in research, internships, and full-time employment at Ford, a company that is already one of the top employers for U-M engineering graduates. “Ford’s co-location on Ann Arbor’s campus will only enhance the extraordinary pipeline of talent,” said Ken Washington, vice president of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering and chief technology officer. “Our investment will also enhance our already strong collaboration in autonomy and robotics by establishing an enduring footprint to propel our research partnership forward.”


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