In the News

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Concentrate's News Editor commissions local muralist for Detroit building

Concentrate's very own Jon Zemke has a sideline (well, really it's his main line) as a building developer in Detroit. Along with bringing neglected buildings back to life, Jon saw an opportunity to bring art to the Woodbridge neighborhood.

Excerpt:

"Zemke originally just wanted people to stop tagging his rental property with graffiti. Then he realized he could make it a tribute to an important Detroiter. He also wanted to show his support for teachers in the embattled Detroit Public Schools system."

Read the rest here. And next time you see Jon, give him a little 'good on ya' nod.

Graduate Ann Arbor opens, now city's largest hotel

Chicago-based AJ Capital Partners has made a $51 million bet that Ann Arbor 's dearth of downtown accommodations means big business for their new hotel.

Excerpt:

"Dennis Doyle, executive vice president of sales and marketing at the Ann Arbor Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the sale price can be attributed to strong demand for hotel space in the city, where occupancy rates, at 65 percent, are above the national average."

Read the rest here.
 

Toyota to build driveless vehicle R&D site in Ann Arbor

Autonomous vehicle research is all the rage, and Toyota is getting in on the action with a new R&D center in Ann Arbor.

Excerpt:

"Although the focus of each of the three strategically located facilities will be broad, each will feature a different core discipline.  TRI-ANN will focus primarily on fully autonomous (chauffeured) driving.  TRI-PAL will work on what may be termed “guardian angel” driving, where the driver is always engaged but the vehicle assists as needed. TRI-CAM will dedicate a large portion of its work to simulation and deep learning.

The Toyota Research Institute is an enterprise designed to bridge the gap between fundamental research and product development.  With initial funding of $1 billion, it has four initial mandates."

Read about it here.

And if you're interested in the ethical implication of autonomous vehicles, be sure to check out Dude, Where's My Driverless Car? The Ethics of Autonomous Vehicles, a conversation being held tonight (Wednesday) at the Michigan League, Henderson Room.

What computer games can teach us about urban planning

In what may be one of our favorite articles about urban planning, The Atlantic writer Daniel Hertz looks at what computer games say about American attitudes about urban planning.

Excerpt:

"While all games that simulate real life are of course drastically simplified, the way that they’re simplified often speaks to the actual worldview of the people who design and play them. With that in mind, here are some notes on the assumptions that undergird urban-planning video games such as SimCity and CS:

You must zone—and use single-use zoning. With the exception of some Sunbelt cities, nearly every urban core in America took shape in an era before zoning. Brownstone Brooklyn, Wicker Park in Chicago, Cooper-Young in Memphis, and any number of pre-WWII neighborhoods across the country—not to mention iconic cities in other parts of the world—could only have been built without modern American zoning, with its density limits, parking requirements, and separation of shops and homes. But in CS, no one can build anything on a plot of land until a player has given it a zone: Residential, Commercial, Industrial, or Office, and specified high- or low-density. It’s striking that zoning is so baked into our assumptions about how urban development works that leaving something unzoned is just not possible—let alone creating mixed-use zoning, form-based zoning, or other kinds of development regulations like those used in Europe."

Read the rest here. Really, read it!

How to make a walkable neighborhood more walkable

Not all walkable neighborhoods are created equal. Liz Callin, a policy associate at the Michigan Environmental Council, offers up five ways walkable neighborhoods can be made more walkable.

Excerpt:

"The more people and places there are in a neighborhood, the more places there are to walk and (usually) people to walk with. I’m not saying a place needs Manhattan-levels of density to be pleasant to walk in, but generally speaking, a neighborhood with at least a few thousand people per square mile is helpful."

Read the other four suggestions here.
 

Are urban planners ready for driverless cars? No.

Federal law requires metropolitan planning organizations to develop regional plans that look 20 years out. Given the advances in driveless mobility, you'd think those plans (which must be produced every 4 years) would start preparing for this next evolution in transportation. You'd be wrong. A University of Pennsylvania researcher perused the plans of the 25 largest metro planning organizations and found that 24 don't even mention self-driving cars in their future. 

Excerpt:

"The biggest factor, then, is not uncertainty about whether or not self-driving cars will change urban transportation. Rather, it’s uncertainty over just what those changes will look like, and how these shifts will impact major planning investments already underway. One planner put it bluntly: “We don’t know what the hell to do about it. It’s like pondering the imponderable.""

Read the rest here.

And here's a little about Google's new self-driving car.
 

Football helmet designed at U-M may decrease head injuries

For those of you who weren't put off by Steve Almond's provocative "Against Football: A Reluctant Manifesto" but still worry about the concussions that plague football players, researchers at U-M are developing a more shock-absorbing helmet system for players.

Excerpt:

"The engineering researchers making the system, called Mitigatium, were recently funded by a group that includes the National Football League. Their early prototype could lead to a lightweight and affordable helmet that effectively dissipates the energy from hit after hit on the field. Current helmets can't do this, and that's one of the reasons they aren't very good at preventing brain injury."

Read the rest here.
 

U-M researchers are developing injectable radios

Yeah, it brings to mind creepy science Fiction movies, but U-M researchers are developing implantable radios. And that could mean big advances in medical devices like pacemakers and health monitoring sensors.

Excerpt:

"Implantable medical devices usually have to trade smarts for size. Pacemakers and other active devices with processors on board are typically about a cubic centimeter in size, and must be implanted surgically. Smaller implantable electronics tend to be passive, lacking computing smarts and the ability to actively broadcast signals, says David Blaauw, a professor of electrical engineer and computer science at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor."

Read the rest here.
 

What about donating solar power to Michigan non-profits?

Our old pal Dave Strenski from Ypsi Solar has a great suggestion. What is it, you ask? You did read the headline, right?

Excerpt:

"The non-profits simply had to accept the check and pay the contractor to install the panels. There was no administrative overhead; we got economies of scale by bidding six projects as one; and the non-profits had very little extra work because everything was laid out for them by SolarYpsi.

This is an excellent model to replicate in other communities. By funding solar power projects for non-profits, donors ensure that these organizations reduce their electricity bill, and can instead use those funds to further their missions."

Read/listen to the rest here!
 

Ann Arbor Coherix teams with Chinese firm, lands $12M in investment

The world just gets smaller and smaller and smaller. Ann Arbor's Coherix has taken on a Chinese investor to the une of $12M to help market their current technology and develop more products for their target industries.

Excerpt:

"Xintai Electric is a new investor to Coherix. Based in Liaoning, the company specializes in the research, development, manufacture and sales of power equipment in China. Initially, the joint venture will focus on marketing the existing Coherix Robust 3D machine vision products to the automotive industry in China and throughout Asia. The product line will include Predator3D™, Robust3D™, Saber3D™ and ShaPix3D® systems. Coherix and Xintai Electric intend to expand operations into the semiconductor, precision manufacturing and aerospace markets as well as other industries. In addition, the companies jointly plan to refine the 3D machine vision products to better suit the needs of local markets."

Read the rest here.
 

Siemens chooses Ann Arbor as "Center for Intelligent Traffic Technology"

Siemens has been using Ann Arbor as a guinea pig for traffic flow management research, and now intends to expand its program to include more than 50 intersections.

Excerpt:

"The 10-year relationship with the city wasn’t the only reason Siemens chose Ann Arbor to be its first Center of Excellence for Intelligent Traffic Technology. Welz said U-M’s work in developing connected and autonomous vehicles, particularly at its MCity vehicle research center, made Ann Arbor especially attractive.

“Because of the research being done at the university, there are 3,000 or so cars getting traffic congestion information from traffic controllers,” Welz explained. “The university has a separate program for connected vehicles, but because they’re doing the testing in and around Ann Arbor, they’re using some of our controllers."

Read the rest here.
 

U-M classes inspire local government careers

Students at the University of Michigan are taking classes that foster both inspiration and insight into the practical application of public service. The result for some has been a new career in local politics. 

Excerpt:

"Along with Ackerman, University alum Travis Gonyou, who graduated in 2012, said his University education allowed him to get a greater understanding of politics that he used for his current job as a community outreach and communications manager at the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan. Gonyou said Political Science Prof. Arthur Lupia’s political persuasion class was especially formative for Gonyou, and inspired him to think about politics in a different way."


Read the rest here.
 

Stockholm institutes "reverse congestion dividends"

In an effort to fight congestion, cities aren't just charging auto users more (something american cities would do well to consider) but also creating financial incentives for commuting cyclists.

Excerpt:

"This is an idea being proposed for Stockholm in a new report from Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology. Having studied the barriers Stockholmers face in switching from cars to bikes, the institute has recommended that the city’s existing congestion charge zone be adapted to benefit people commuting by bike. Some money earned through the congestion charge (which covers most of the inner city) could be funneled back into cycling benefits—not as cash in hand, but as credits towards bike repairs or upgrades to studded tires for winter riding. According to institute staff, the plan would do more than provide practical incentives."

Read the rest here.

 

Ann Arbor-based LLamasoft grows business and jobs

How do we know that LLamasoft is burning economic rubber? Well, first, it was named to the Deloitte 2015 Technology
Fast 500 for the fourth consecutive year. Second, it's currently looking to add 20 new employees.

Excerpt:

LLamasoft has been on a relatively fast growth track, according to company officials. It added 75 employees last year and expects to do the same by the end of this year. In each of the last three years, LLamasoft has ranked as the fastest-growing supply chain software company in the Deloitte Fast 500 list of North American technology companies.

Read the rest here.

The company will hold a career fair from 4-7 p.m. Nov. 19  at its headquarters at 201 S. Main St.

Ann Arbor libraries are on the cutting edge of innovation

The rise of the Internet culture has challenged libraries across the nation to rethink their role in the community. Luckily, the Ann Arbor Library is on the cutting edge of this thinking, evolving its mission and offerings in exciting and unconventional ways.

Excerpt:

The Ann Arbor District Library has been adding to its voluminous collection of circulating science equipment. It offers telescopes, portable digital microscopes and backyard bird cameras, among other things — items that many patrons cannot afford to buy. Dave Menzo, a 28-year-old musician, created a whole album by borrowing electronic music equipment, including a photocell-controlled synthesizer called a Thingamagoop.

Read the rest here.
 
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