Posted by Linda Lynch
We had a rare treat as we ate our lunch on Friday, July 29th – our dining serenade included not only John Dale Smith on piano, but also Bronnie Brown on clarinet and saxophone. The duo finished promptly at 12:30 and President Elect Nick Heriford called the meeting to order.
 
Our reflection was given by Lolo Robison, who shared a poem called “A Communter’s Life” by Amanda Morgan.
 
Slowly, silently,
Now the moon rides the breaking dawn.
Her steps – pressing cement – racing blushing skies, stammers in the cheating wind –
a puckish ally to a plastic bag catching flight crossing the intersection,
perpendicular to her gaze,
morphing currents in the wind,
Until five stories up she sees an air jellyfish liberated to take on this day
and abscond into the sunrise,
leaving moon buoyed (boo-eeed) to the sky, as she makes it to the bus
stop on time –
her consolation prize.
 
Following the reflection, we joined in singing “America, The Beautiful”.
 
President Elect Nick lead us as we repeated the 4 Way Test. Katie Krick handled the microphone for the introduction of the day’s guest. President Nick had no updates for the health of the club, but asked if anyone had an update on Dave O’Leary. Chris Holman reported that he had seen Dave, who is doing well and has almost regained all of his wit.
 
Kevin Schumacher was apparently taken by surprise when asked to speak about membership, so he simply reminded us all not to forget about it.
 
Julie Pingston introduced member Meghan Martin with the Arts Council to talk about the grant they have received from our foundation for Arts Night Out. Arts Night Out in Old Town was launched in May 2016 and happens bi-monthly on the first Friday of the month. Businesses stay open late and local artists are on hand to provide art experiences to attendees. The July event was the first since the grant was received. For July, there were 18 participating venues and 19 artists. This event coincided with the annual Scrapfest. The grant will allow the Arts Council to expand Arts Night Out to include food trucks and more interactive performers. Meghan invited those of us with questions to approach her at any meeting for more information.
 
John Dale Smith introduced us to the Summer Music Series at University Lutheran Church. This week will feature Roaring 20’s Party Band. Don Sovey, one of its members and a Charlotte Rotarian, gave us a run down on the band (6 pieces) and introduced Bronnie Brown on clarinet who gave us a taste of the type of music we could expect on Sunday. Bronnie’s selections were The Charleston and Baby Face. His playing had everyone’s toes tapping and heads nodding in time to these tunes.
 
President Elect Nick introduced Chris Holman as Chair of the Day and Month and thanked him for his work lining up the month’s speakers. Chris introduced Nick Moroz, a Plymouth Michigan Rotarian, Mayor and Assistant Director of Entrpreneurial Practice and TechLab at Mcity.
 
Mcity, which Nick proclaimed to be arguably the most important asset in the state, consists of 18 miles of dense simulated roadways covering highways, gravel, train crossings, forest and many other scenarios. TechLab involves students, both graduate and undergraduate, and helps them become the next mobility leaders. The project brings together manufacturers, insurance companies, municipalities and academia to work on the integration of autonomous vehicles with existing roads.
 
Nick explained the 6 levels (0 -5) of autonomy in cars. Tesla is currently producing cars that operate at Level 3 – Conditional Automation. These cars can drive themselves in ideal conditions only and require that a driver still be present.
 
The tipping point is Level 4 – High Automation. At that level, cars would still have steering wheels, but would be able to operate with other vehicles that are not autonomous. Level 5 – Full Automation is probably not attainable, but these cars would not have steering wheels and would operate entirely without a driver.
 
One barrier is that there are no Federal standards relating to automated vehicles. Each state can develop its own standards.
 
The goal is to make transportation safer. There are currently one million significant injuries every year. Technology is being added to intersections to increase safety. Phone will soon be talking to technology in the intersections. That technology in turn will talk to automobiles. Technology is being developed for lightposts. These technologies should reduce accidents between autos and pedestrians, as well as between autos. Expect to see more signage for pedestrians and less for drivers.
 
Techlab selects 6 startups each year. Students work on these projects in teams of 4. One recent project worked on identifying construction zones to alert other autos. This technology was purchased by Toyota and will soon be in production.
 
Examples of projects currently in commercial operation include:
• A2GO – a service bringing four Lexus RX 450h shuttles and one wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAMS) to the streets of Ann Arbor. The shuttles operate using self-driving technology, but an Autonomous Vehicle Operator will always be in the driver’s seat to monitor the vehicle’s behavior and ensure safety for all on board.
• Food delivery robots currently operating in Ann Arbor.
• Electric autonomous bus service operating on the MSU campus. These buses can be connected via software to replace current articulated buses. Because there is no physical connection between the buses, these are much easier to navigate. Only the first bus requires a standby driver.
 
Nick noted that public tours of Mcity are available and that the public can ride vehicles that are part of the A2GO project.
 
Mcity projects also consider climate conditions such as snow, rain and fog. Notably, most climate testing occurs in Michigan because we experience all 4 seasons. Simulated conditions can also include deer (there are a series of robots that can simulate various things) and there is a roundabout that has five entrances – none visible from another.
 
Mcity also conducts pre-competitive research. Challenging objectives that are not yet commercial, or even seen as commercializable are considered.
 
President Elect Nick thanked speaker Nick for being with us and let him know that we would make a contribution to our Foundation in his name in lieu of a speakers gift.
 
Our meeting next week will be at Rotary Park with catering by Saddleback BBQ.
 
Linda Lynch's email is:  linda.j.lynch@gmail.com