UA Gets $412K Grant to Plan Smart Mobility Initiatives

UA Gets $412K Grant to Plan Smart Mobility Initiatives
The Volocopter VoloCity urban air taxi, an electric aircraft featured at the UP.Summit in Bentonville in June 2022 (Jared Sorrells | 4media group)

The University of Arkansas has received a $412,000 grant from the Walton Charitable Support Foundation to plan initiatives in smart mobility.

The eight-month grant will support pilot research studies of autonomous, electrified, interconnected and shared vehicles and how they can transform traditional supply chains, travel and work.

The money will also fund industry and peer benchmarking, content marketing, and education and workforce development planning, the university said in a news release.

The university’s targeted innovation areas include next-generation vehicles, unmanned aerial mobility and artificial intelligence for smart mobility. 

Heather Nachtmann, associate dean of engineering and holder of the Earl J. and Lillian P. Dyess Endowed Chair in Engineering, is leading the campus-wide smart mobility planning effort. Nachtmann is a member of the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility, which includes some of the states' top leaders in technology and transportation.

"As the emerging field of smart mobility progresses, it is critical to develop our comprehensive vision now to leverage our competitive edge in this rapidly evolving industry," Nachtmann said in the release. "We have all the critical components — strategic industry partners, an innovative ecosystem and world-renowned experts.

"This planning grant will enable the university to elevate our existing capacity into a transformational vision to drive smart mobility workforce development and innovation."

Mike Malone, vice chancellor for economic development, said the grant will provide a roadmap for the university and the state to become the "epicenter of smart mobility."

"These technologies have the potential to transform traditional supply chains and business models," he said. "By aligning our talent, resources and programs with public and industry partners we will establish our state as the hub for smart mobility business, innovation and workforce development."

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