North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University received $50,000 from Downtown Greensboro, Inc. (DGI) that will go toward prototyping and deploying two self-driving shuttles. The funds will be allocated to the newly established North Carolina Transportation Center of Excellence in Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Technology (NC-CAV) at N.C. A&T’s College of Engineering (COE).

“Our college’s partnerships with private industry and government are critical to our ability to engineer effective solutions to the complex challenges facing Greensboro, the nation and the world,” said COE dean Robin N. Coger, Ph.D. “This transportation-focused collaboration with DGI is exciting, and we are looking forward to the impact of the results that will be produced as we continue to work together.”

DGI’s investment will pave a way toward more agile, flexible and affordable transportation in the downtown area as well as enhance the connection between the campus and city while providing opportunities to promote economic stimulus for future growth. This partnership is also aligned with A&T’s strategic plan, “A&T Preeminence: Taking the Momentum to 2023,” for national and regional community engagement and DGI’s 2030 Vision Plan to incorporate the use of autonomous vehicles in downtown Greensboro.

The partnership between A&T and DGI to bring fresh, innovative ideas downtown began with the opening of the university’s pop-up shop and the establishment of the NC-CAV last fall. Now, DGI’s funding will stimulate research development for transportation technologies and attract new businesses to Greensboro.

“We’re excited to be a part of this trailblazing and revolutionary form of transportation,” said Zack Matheny, DGI president and CEO and NC-CAV advisory board member. “One of the proposed Big Moves of the 2030 Vision Plan is to incorporate the use of autonomous vehicles, which is an innovative step that will set Greensboro  apart from other cities, attract new businesses to the area, and retain talented students who are prepared to make an impact as they enter the workforce.”

A&T has proven regionally and nationally to be one of the leading universities in autonomy, transportation and the automotive industry.

“This collaboration makes it possible to have Greensboro as one of the pioneer cities in the nation that is practicing deployment of autonomous vehicles as part of the roadmap to become a smart city with a smart transportation system,” said Ali Karimoddini, Ph.D., NC-CAV director and COE associate professor.

The university is strategically positioned to introduce transportation advancements with expertise, resources and infrastructure associated with the TECHLAV Center of Excellence in Autonomy and the Center for Advanced Transportation Mobility on campus. Additionally, N.C. A&T’s AutoDrive team placed second overall and first nationally in the SAE/General Motors AutoDrive Challenge last year and will advance to the third challenge this summer.