CCAT Announces 2024 Funding Opportunity

CCAT Announces 2024 Funding Opportunity

CCAT Announces 2024 Funding Opportunity

Research Vehicle stationary at the Mcity Test Facility
Research Vehicle at the Mcity Test Facility

The Center for Connected and Automated Transportation (CCAT), the USDOT Region 5 University Transportation Center is pleased to announce a funding opportunity for 2024. Connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies hold the potential to substantially improve traffic safety, mitigate traffic congestion, reduce fuel consumption and air pollutant emissions, and promote equity. As CAV technologies progress towards integration into public roadway systems, there exist a variety of open questions and issues on technology development, policy and planning, and system design and operations that require answers and resolution. To address these questions, CCAT plans to focus on four research thrusts: (1) advancing safety through accelerated training and testing of CAV and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) deployment, (2) enhancing mobility by developing connected infrastructure and cooperative driving automation, (3) hardening the CAV ecosystem to reduce cybersecurity risks, and (4) building social infrastructure to ensure transportation equity. More details regarding the funding opportunity and important dates can be viewed below:
Issue Date: December 22, 2023
Proposal Due Date: February 15, 2024
For questions, please contact Henry Liu (CCAT Director) and Debby Bezzina (CCAT Managing Director)

Overview of CCAT
The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (UM), in partnership with Purdue University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), University of Akron (UA), Central State University (CSU), and Washtenaw Community College (WCC), established the USDOT Region 5 University Transportation Center (UTC): Center for Connected and Automated Transportation (CCAT) in December 2016 under the FAST Act. In June 2023, CCAT was renewed under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), with University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Northwestern University as additional consortium members. The statutory research priority area that CCAT will address is Promoting Safety. Under IIJA, CCAT is USDOT’s designated UTC “focusing its efforts in the field of comprehensive transportation safety, congestion, connected vehicles, connected infrastructure, and autonomous vehicles, including the cybersecurity implications of technologies relating to connected vehicles, connected infrastructure, and autonomous vehicles”.

CCAT Vision
Maintain regional and national leadership in connected and automated transportation system research, education, and training.

CCAT Mission
Significantly advance the evolution of the U.S. next-generation transportation
systems with connected and automated vehicles and infrastructure. Provide national and regional leadership for connected and automated transportation research, education, training, and deployment.

CCAT invites proposals from the community of researchers within the partner institutions. CCAT seeks both fundamental and applied research proposals that align with the CCAT mission. CCAT particularly values proposals with demonstrable outcomes or significant impacts on the field or the state-of-the-practice. Additionally, CCAT encourages researchers to utilize the Mcity 2.0, a mixed reality test facility for connected and automated vehicles and infrastructure that can be accessed remotely.

Funding Opportunity Description
Connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies hold the potential to substantially improve traffic safety, mitigate traffic congestion, reduce fuel consumption and air pollutant emissions, and promote equity. As CAV technologies progress towards integration into public roadway systems, there exist a variety of open questions and issues on technology development, policy and planning, and system design and operations that require answers and resolution.
To address these questions, CCAT plans to focus on four research thrusts: (1) advancing safety through accelerated training and testing of CAV and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) deployment, (2) enhancing mobility by developing connected infrastructure and cooperative driving automation, (3) hardening the CAV ecosystem to reduce cybersecurity risks, and (4) building social infrastructure to ensure transportation equity.
Thrust 1: Advancing CAV Safety. Safety is and always will be the top priority of CAV technologies. Despite significant advancements in technology over the past two decades, it is widely acknowledged that autonomous vehicles (AVs) still have a safety performance that falls considerably short of that exhibited by the average human driver. In order to enhance the safety of CAVs, CCAT is soliciting proposals from three distinct perspectives. Firstly, the development and demonstration of safety validation methodologies for AVs, encompassing both functional safety testing and behavioral safety testing. Secondly, the expeditious deployment of V2X (vehicle-to-everything) technology, taking into account the FCC Ruling that designates 30MHz of safety spectrum for transportation applications. This is particularly crucial in the realm of safeguarding vulnerable road users (VRUs). Collaborating with telecommunication service providers such as Verizon to explore V2X applications utilizing their licensed spectrum is also encouraged. Lastly, the development and demonstration of CAV deployment in the Midwest, which entails navigating winter driving conditions in urban areas and year-round driving in rural regions. CCAT warmly welcomes proposals that strive to develop technologies capable of making autonomous driving a viable option for individuals residing in the Midwest.
Thrust 2: Enhancing Mobility. CCAT advocates for the implementation of new infrastructure to accommodate vehicles with advanced levels of automation. This may entail making adjustments to the existing physical infrastructure and establishing a sophisticated digital infrastructure to facilitate the operation of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), especially in complex traffic scenarios. CCAT welcomes proposals aimed at exploring and developing cooperative driving automation (CDA) applications, which can effectively alleviate both recurrent and non-recurrent traffic congestion on highways and major roads. Additionally, CCAT is keen on investigating the tradeoffs between the benefits and costs of individual sensing versus cooperative sensing for CAVs. The research findings from these proposed initiatives will offer timely support to government agencies in formulating policies that guide the development and deployment of CDA.
Thrust 3: Reducing Cybersecurity Risks. Security is also highly relevant, as any possible attack on the wireless link, such as false data injection, spoofing, or jamming, could lead to disastrous consequences. In this research thrust, CCAT seeks proposals to secure the CAV ecosystem by simultaneously considering cybersecurity threats posed to CAVs, physical transportation infrastructure and cyber infrastructure that support CAV operations. Particularly, we seek proposals to address challenges in securing software systems and their ML-based algorithms that control CAVs and their interaction with the infrastructure, taking into consideration that software on CAVs need to remain secure throughout the lifetime of a vehicle. Our priority lies in fundamental research that focuses on preventing and mitigating attacks, rather than solely identifying weaknesses. Additionally, we are interested in leveraging advanced communication technologies, particularly emerging 5G/Next-Generation (NextG) networking and computing capabilities, along with innovative artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) algorithms, to enhance cybersecurity in future automated transportation systems.
Thrust 4: Ensuring Transportation Equity. AVs hold the promise to remove barriers to personal transportation, particularly for those with disabilities limiting their ability to drive. However, AVs may also harm social equity for disadvantaged groups. This dichotomy has been referred to as the “AV heaven” and “AV hell” scenarios. To avoid “AV hell”, CCAT is interested in proposals that is explicitly aimed at creating equitable transportation, where equal and adequate access to quality, reliable, safe, and affordable transport options can be provided to all individuals regardless of their financial resources. CCAT encourages proposals that include plans to assess the effectiveness of the proposed approach in promoting equity.

The topics discussed above are not meant to be an exhaustive list. Instead, CCAT is actively seeking proposals that present innovative concepts capable of expediting the progress and implementation of connected and automated transportation systems, with the aim of advancing safety, improving mobility, strengthening cybersecurity, and promoting equity. Furthermore, CCAT highly encourages proposals that build upon the achievements of previously funded projects. For further information regarding CCAT and the ongoing research projects that are currently being funded, please visit the CCAT website.

In order to maximize its impact, CCAT places a strong emphasis on proposals that can demonstrate tangible outcomes or impacts on the field or the state-of-the-practice. It is essential for a CCAT proposal to have an industry or government champion, as proposals without one will not receive funding. Additionally, CCAT strongly encourages the inclusion of matching funds from industry or state and local government agencies. If you require assistance in identifying industry or government contacts, please reach out to Debby Bezzina at

Furthermore, CCAT encourages researchers to utilize the Mcity 2.0, a remote-accessible mixed reality test facility designed for connected and automated vehicles and infrastructure. A detailed description of the Mcity 2.0 facility can be found on Page 7. For information regarding the rates for utilizing the Mcity Test Facility, please visit:

Required Proposal Elements:

  1. Cover Sheet: Complete the proposal cover sheet (see attachment) and include it as the first page of the project proposal.
  2. Project Abstract (Limited to 1 Page): Concise summary of the project.
  3. Proposal Description (Limited to 5 pages, additional materials are allowed as appendices)
    • Introduction
    • Technical Approach, including any challenges
    • Proposal Tasks
    • Schedule
  4. Letter of commitment from industry or government principals for CCAT proposals.
  5. Appendix A: Response to Evaluation Criteria – write a paragraph or less on each of the following, pulling from your proposal description as necessary. Use the headings as written below (the part in bold). If the section is not applicable to your proposal, under the heading write n/a.
    • Technical Innovation. Describe the key innovation and relevance to the CCAT Research Thrusts.
    • Technical Feasibility. Describe why the research is feasible.
    • Uniqueness. What makes this project unique? Include any preliminary research review results.
    • US DOT Priorities: Describe how the project supports US DOT priorities and the RD&T strategic goals. Also describe how the project engages in breakthrough, advanced, or transformative research.
    • Outputs: list the type and quantity. Outputs are defined as any new or improved process, practice, technology, software, training aid, or other tangible product resulting from research and development activities. Examples:
      • Publication, conference papers, and presentations
      • Policy Papers
      • Website(s) or other Internet site(s)
      • New methodologies, technologies, or techniques
      • Inventions, patents, and/or licenses
      • Other products, such as data or databases, physical collections, audio or video products, application software or NetWare, analytical models, educational aids, courses or curricula, instruments, equipment, or research material
    • Outcomes and Impacts: Describe the application of the output and any changes this output has or will make to the transportation system, or its regulatory, legislative, or policy framework, including a description of products or patents, or a change in practice, or instances of research results informing policy decisions. Discuss how this research output will positively impact the transportation system in terms of safety, reliability, durability, costs, etc.
    • Research Champion Involvement and matching funds. How will your champion be actively involved in the research? Does your champion have plans to implement the research results if the project is successful? Do you have any external funding sources or a plan to attract them? If so, please identify the source(s).
    • Collaboration. Will you be working with any other CCAT organizations? Will you be working with any other industry or government organizations other than your project champion? Are you implementing an advisory board? If yes to any of these questions, provide a description of the organization(s) and their planned involvement.
    • Research Deployment. Will you be deploying your research in the real world and are the tasks clearly defined?
    • Students. Will students be working on your research? CCAT encourages that students are included in the project team.
    • Past performance for Mcity and CCAT funded projects. List patents or invention disclosures, field implementation, policy changes, papers, attracting additional funding, etc., that was the result of past Mcity/CCAT funded projects.
  6. Appendix B: Itemized Budget and budget justification
    • Budget Justification. Describe level of effort to perform the tasks in the project description.
    • Itemized budget:
      • Faculty and Staff Salaries, with fringe benefits broken out
      • Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSRA) Salaries, with fringe benefits broken out
      • GSRA Tuition
      • Supplies/Materials
      • Travel
      • Equipment
      • Other
      • Total Direct Cost Amount
      • Indirect Cost Amount
      • Total amount requested
      • Cost share
      • Total project cost
  7. Appendix C: Resumes. Short bios of the PIs: no more than two pages for each primary researcher. Bios should include pertinent links including LinkedIn, Twitter, ResearchGate, Google Scholar, personal website, etc.

Mcity Test Facility:
The Mcity Test Facility sits on a 32-acre site on the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex, with more than 16 acres of transportation infrastructure and 4 lane-miles of sidewalks and roads. Unlike a traditional proving ground, this full-scale next-generation facility simulates the broad range of complexities transportation systems encounter in real environments. It is used by both academia and industry for a range of open research, private development, and collaborative testing.

For connected and automate vehicle testing, the Mcity Test Facility has eight signalized intersections of various configurations, surface features such as a traffic circle, tunnel, roundabout, blind curves, and a 1000’ section of freeway with overhead gantries that can be configured as limited access US Highway or signalized State Trunkline. Each intersection is equipped with NTCIP-compliant signal controllers, from vendors such as Econolite and Siemens. The system is networked by fiber running at 10-gigabit (minimum). A full map of these features is publicly available.

Roadside units can be quickly placed at a variety of locations in the facility, in configurations that match real-world deployments. Cross-arms, wood pole, guy wire, and other arrangements are supported, with full PoE control provided through software.

Mcity Test Facility Features:

  • State-of-the-art instrumentation and sensors throughout the facility include a control network to collect data about traffic activity using wireless, fiber optics, Ethernet, and a highly accurate real-time kinematic positioning system
  • Fully connected 5G network and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication throughout the facility
  • Facility infrastructure and testing conditions can be controlled with our Mcity OS cloud-based software
  • Multiple road surfaces, variety of road markings and crossing types (e.g. pedestrian, railroad)
  • 1,000-foot straightaway, plus access ramps, curves, roundabout, traffic circle, and urban streets
  • Traffic signals and traffic signs, plus building facades and simulated tree cover
  • House and and garage exterior with accessibility ramp for first-mile/last-mile testing, deliveries, and ride hailing
  • Bridge deck, underpass, guardrails, barriers, and crash attenuators
  • Onsite workstation and configurable open test areas.

Mcity 2.0:
Mcity 2.0 aims to develop digital infrastructure that will overlay the physical test facility and create a cloud-based, augmented-reality connected and automated vehicle (CAV) testbed that will be available to academic researchers nationwide. The digital infrastructure will include four major components, as shown below. The first one is the user interface that will allow remote researchers to configure their testing scenarios and access their test data through AWS cloud services. The second component is the digital twin of Mcity in combination with a realistic simulation model for the naturalistic driving environment. The third component is the augmented reality test environment which will synchronize the digital twin of Mcity and the Mcity physical infrastructure. The last one is the Mcity OS, which will connect the digital infrastructure with the physical infrastructure. The Mcity 2.0 project will also develop a data engine that provides high resolution vehicle and other road user trajectory data. The Mcity 2.0 Project is currently being funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Augmented Reality (AR) Testing Environment:
As part of the Mcity 2.0, the AR testing environment combines the Mcity physical test track with a simulation environment so that the real vehicle under test can interact with virtual road objects, including vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists, etc. Movements of the real autonomous vehicle (AV) in the physical test track are synchronized with the simulation platform, and the information of virtual BVs generated in simulation is fed back to the real AV. Therefore the real AV in the physical test track can interact with the virtual BVs as if it is in a realistic traffic environment. Since the AV is tested on physical roadways, exact vehicle dynamics and road environment is ensured. Meanwhile, compared with introducing real BVs, simulated BVs can be easily controlled in generating different scenarios with less cost and safety concerns. To further enable testing of camera-based AV perception and localization systems, an image augmented module was also developed, which can superimpose virtual background vehicles into real camera videos. As shown in the following figure, the leftmost figure illustrates the simulation view, where the virtual testing scenarios are generated based on the simulation model SUMO; the middle figure illustrates the real-world AV view, where the black vehicle is the AV equipped with the open-source AUTOWARE automatic driving system, and blue vehicles are augmented background vehicles; and the rightmost figures illustrate the original view (top) and augmented view (bottom) from the AV front camera.

Mcity Open CAV Fleet:
The Mcity OpenCAV project aims to provide a reusable and shared self-driving research platform. The vehicle platform is based on ROS and includes different types of activated/calibrated sensors (Lidar, radar, camera), by-wire control (Dataspeed), and DSRC and C-V2X for V2X communication. To facilitate users, a toolkit is developed, including 1) data recording/conversion tool, 2) by-wire control API, 3) servo-loop trajectory/speed tracking control API, 4) distributed computing framework, 5) RTK correction tool with 4G network, and 6) tutorials, etc. This enables them to function as highly-automated vehicles (SAE level 3 or 4) as well as performing the role of challenge vehicles in scenario-based tests. Mcity has built a fleet of four open-source CAVs that can be customized for research.