Michigan, the nexus of commercial vehicles, defense, aerospace, robotics and cyber.

Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC)

The Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC), is the nation’s laboratory for advanced military automotive technology located at the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Michigan.  At the GVSC there are more than 1,000 researchers and engineers that develop and maintain vehicles for all U.S. Army Forces, many federal agencies and more than 60 foreign countries.

GVSC engages with industry and academic institutions to develop, integrate and sustain the right technology solutions for all manned and unmanned DoD ground vehicle systems and combat service support equipment to improve Current Force effectiveness and provide superior capabilities for the Future Force.  It is the nation’s laboratory for developing advanced military ground vehicle technologies, Ground Vehicle Power and Mobility, Ground Vehicle Robotics, Ground Systems Survivability, process integration expertise and system-of-systems (SoS) engineering solutions for Force Projection Technology, and Vehicle Electronics and Architecture.

This organization produces solutions in state-of-the-art in ground vehicle survivability, mobility, intelligent systems, maneuver support and sustainment and researches, develops, engineers and integrates advanced technology into ground systems and support equipment, such as smaller, lighter, more mobile and survivable ground vehicles; enhanced lightweight armor for better ballistics protection; enhanced fuels, lubricants; and water supply and waste water treatment.

The center leads several Army future combat systems science and technology efforts collaborating with the Army’s combat developers to ensure that it fields robust equipment that meets aggressive cost, schedule and performance standards.

GVSC is also home to some of the most unique and important R&D labs and testing facilities in the nation:

  • Laser Protection Laboratory
  • Crew Station Systems Integration Laboratory
  • Robotic Systems Integration Laboratory
  • Ground Vehicle Simulation Laboratory — ride motion simulator, pintle motion based simulator, crew station/turret motion based simulator and several vehicle “shaker” facilities
  • High Performance Computing Laboratory — supports virtual prototyping and design development of combat vehicles and improves virtual reality capabilities
  • Next Generation Software Laboratory
  • Water Laboratory
  • Petroleum Laboratory — researches properties and durability of a wide range of fuel including JP-8, Diesel, hydraulic fluids and lubricants
  • Bridging Simulation Laboratory — Located at Selfridge Air National Guard base, this facility features computer-controlled load test areas with automated data acquisition capability for structural testing of bridging systems. Laboratory capabilities include static and dynamic structural load application for structural and fatigue testing.
  • Propulsion Test Laboratory
  • Physical and Rapid Prototyping Laboratory
  • Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Center — researches a variety of alternative vehicle structural materials, including composite materials
  • Center for Systems Integration (CSI)
  • Vehicle Protection Integration Laboratory (VPIL)
  • Ground System Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL)
  • Power and Energy Vehicle Environment Laboratory (PEVEL)
  • Fuel Cell Research Laboratory
  • Energy Storage Laboratory
  • Air Filtration Laboratory
  • Electric Components Laboratory
  • Power Laboratory
  • Thermal Management Laboratory
  • Calorimeter Laboratory

Preparing for future battlefields: The Next Generation Combat Vehicle, Army Future’s Command at the Detroit Arsenal

The Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team was established as part of the Army’s modernization strategy. The team consists of hand-selected military and civilian personnel, who are charged with narrowing or closing Cross Domain Maneuver capability gaps. The CFT serves as the primary Army integrator for Under Secretary of the Army/Vice Chief of Staff of the Army and Army Requirements Oversight Council decision for all supporting analysis, modeling, simulation and technical demonstrations. The NGCV CFT director, on behalf of the USA/VCSA, synchronizes the capability development process, and then rapidly transitions the requirement to a leader-approved capability into the Army Acquisition System.

The current NGCV CFT portfolio encompasses the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, or AMPV; Mobile Protected Firepower, or MPF; Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, or OMFV; future robotic combat vehicles, or RCV; and the next generation main battle tank.

Autonomy AI

Due to Michigan’s engineering talent and innovative culture the commercial automotive industry, defense, aerospace, robotics and cyber has become the nexus of autonomy and artificial intelligence.

The heart of today’s vehicles is no longer the engine, but the complex network of computers controlling nearly every aspect of the vehicle – the engine, HVAC and safety system, infotainment and much more. The rolling computer analogy is just as apt for defense vehicles. Just as Michigan enabled personal transportation over a century ago, we are at the forefront of building a secure transportation future.

Michigan is where the connected car and the autonomous vehicle were born and are nurtured. With assets such as the Michigan Department of Transportation’s connected corridor, MCity and Willow Run – test environments for driverless personal and military vehicles – Michigan is at the forefront of tomorrow’s transportation.

With advanced manufacturing, technology and R&D, Michigan is paving the way for future generations of military autonomous land, air, and marine platforms.

Autonomy in the air

The Michigan Unmanned Aerial Systems Consortium (MUASC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, located at the Alpena County Regional Airport, Alpena, Michigan.

Services are available throughout Michigan and include coordinated access for FAA waivers and Certificates of Authorizations (COAs), site reconnaissance, preflight planning activities, safety reviews, ground and air specifics. MUASC has the capability of performing our services anywhere in the state of Michigan and is a designated UAS testing partner of PlanetM.

MUASC is a test range that offers clients access to the same prioritized FAA approval processes as the seven FAA UAS Test Sites with the support of the entire Griffiss (NY)/ NUAIR team.

MUASC offers 11,000 square miles of Airspace dedicated to Research & Development, Certification, Qualification and Systems testing for Commercial UAS. It includes a Military Operations Area (MOA) that belongs to the Air National Guard, with over 30% of airspace extending over Lake Huron.

The Test Center offers a large spectrum of opportunities for Commercial UAS manufacturers, operators and organizations performing R&D. Much of MUASC is open airspace and a good portion of it is highly suitable for long range, medium altitude UAS. The area around the airport and other specific locations offer space that cater to smaller UAS operating within Line-of-Sight (LOS) and Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) of the operator, hence offering a large gamut of options for UAS operators wishing to perform UAS testing in Michigan.


Testing and R&D Centers Like Nowhere Else

American Center for Mobility – Willow Run

American Center for Mobility is a collaborative effort comprised of government, industry and academic organizations focused on accelerating the mobility industry through research, testing, standards development and educational programming.

Located in Southeast Michigan on over 500-acres at the historic Willow Run site in Ypsilanti, the ACM offers:

  • A smart city test center providing a safe platform for the integration, testing and validation of connected and autonomous vehicle and mobility technologies
  • A technology park for the co-location and incubation of mobility companies
  • An event center for showcasing connected and autonomous vehicle technologies and convening industry activities

MCITY—Ann Arbor, MI

Testing new technologies in a realistic off-roadway environment is an essential step before a significant number of highly automated vehicles can be deployed safely on actual roadways. Working with the Michigan Department of Transportation, University of Michigan researchers have designed Mcity, a unique test facility for evaluating the capabilities of connected and automated vehicles and systems.

Occupying 32 acres at the University’s North Campus Research Complex, Mcity simulates the broad range of complexities vehicles encounter in urban and suburban environments.

For more information click here.

CAR—Ann Arbor, MI

CAR—Ann Arbor, MI

The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) is involved in the research of significant issues that relate to the future direction of the global automotive industry. CAR, a nonprofit organization, is focused on a wide variety of important trends and changes related to the automobile industry and society at the international, federal, state and local levels.

For more information click here.

CAR’s automotive industry research is performed by distinct groups and programs. To fulfill its mission as an impartial voice of the industry, CAR maintains strong relationships with industry, government agencies, universities, research institutes, labor organizations, media, and other major participants in the international automotive community.

Michigan has more unclassified cyber nodes than any other state in the nation.

Michigan Means Cybersecurity Success

Today’s digital world has greatly enhanced convenience, collaboration and innovation. It has also, unfortunately, opened companies and platforms to cyber threats.

Defense and autonomous platforms are vulnerable to this threat, which is why Michigan has developed a robust cybersecurity community focused on connecting the interests of the cyber, automotive, defense, and aerospace industries.

Michigan is at the nation’s forefront of R&D for emerging technologies to support intelligent transportation systems and the world’s first comprehensive state-level approach to cyber, improving the state’s defenses and fostering rapidly growing cyber talent and business environments.

World Renowned Academic R&D

University Research Corridor—SE Michigan

The University Research Corridor (URC) is an alliance of Michigan’s three leading research institutions: Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. Each offers complete graduate and undergraduate education, as well as professional degrees in medicine, business and the law. Their research laboratories produce hundreds of patents each year and their hospitals develop innovative medical treatments that save lives.  Out of all the federally funded academic R&D money in Michigan, the URC accounts for 94% of those funds.

Highlighted here are the major defense related programs offered by the three URC’s:

Michigan State University

University of Michigan

M-Air is an autonomous aerial vehicle testing facility that opened in May 2018 at the University of Michigan.  The lab spans across 9,600-square-feet.  The facility is designed for netted outdoor-testing, stands four stories tall, and allows researchers to push algorithms and equipment to limits that involve high-risk fly-away or loss of control in realistic wind lighting and sensor conditions.  The placement of this new facility is strategic, it is neighbors to the future Ford Motor Company Robotics Building and not too far from M-City.

Wayne State University

The University Corridor’s vision is to unite and lead, playing a key role in creating a vibrant Michigan economy that leverages the intellectual capital of the three research universities. It’s also focused on educating the workforce and planting the seeds for the new industries of tomorrow.

For more information on the URC visit

In addition to the three universities that make up the URC, there are many other Michigan universities that have a focus on advanced engineering and innovative research and tech solutions useful to the Department of Defense.

Eastern Michigan University

Lawrence Technological University

Macomb Community College

Oakland Community College

Oakland University

Walsh College

Wayne County Community College District

    Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization

    The MTRAC Program, with funding support from the Michigan Strategic Fund and administered through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative, was created in 2012 to accelerate the transfer of new technologies from Michigan’s institutions of higher learning. In 2016, the program was expanded as a statewide program to support translational research throughout the state of Michigan from all institutions of higher education, hospital systems and nonprofit research centers. The expansion reinforces the commitment to entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth by providing a pathway to accelerate the creation and transfer of new technologies into the commercial market by way of startups or licenses. Five innovation hubs across the state support key technology focus areas; life sciences, advanced transportation, advanced materials, ag bio and advanced computing. For more details about the MTRAC program or MEDC’s entrepreneurship programs please contact Denise Graves, University Relations Director at For more information on the MTRAC Innovation Hubs and eligibility please visit the individual websites below:

    Light Weighting and Composite Materials

    LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow), operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII), is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Defense, industry and academia.  It’s mission is to advance technology and talent development – driving rapid implementation of smarter manufacturing.  They operate two business units: Leading Innovations For Tomorrow, their technology program, and Learning Innovations For Tomorrow, their talent program.  Together, they are Driving American Manufacturing Into the Future.

    Visit Lift Technology to learn more.


    The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, IACMI, is a partnership of industry, academic institutions, as well as federal, state, and local governments that are working together to benefit the nation’s energy and economic security.

    A membership with IACMI provides a range of benefits on important issues such as strategic planning, road mapping, and development of projects.  The most beneficial component to having an IACMI membership is the networking opportunities, not only one-on-one, but at the semi-annual members meetings.

    For more information on the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, visit