The Ford Motor Company Robotics Building is a new national centerpiece in robotics research, learning, and collaboration.
Opened in 2021, the Ford Robotics building will become the home of Michigan Robotics. The 134,000-square-foot, four-story complex will house classrooms, offices, a cafe, and a startup-style open collaboration area and tailored lab space for a variety of robotic technologies. A few highlights include:
- Three-story fly zone for autonomous aerial vehicles
- An outdoor obstacle course for walking robots
- High-bay garage space for self-driving cars
- A rehabilitation lab with a Stewart platform, force plates, and dual-tread treadmill
- A robotics maker space with CNC, 3D printers, soldering irons, and other shop tools
- An outdoor Mars Yard with imitation martian rocks and soil for testing rovers
And in a unique agreement, Ford will lease the fourth floor to perform robotics research and engineering in collaboration with U-M and other industry leaders.
What is its purpose?
The Ford Robotics Building brings all parts of the robotics enterprise together for real-world results.
The new building is designed to promote collaborative work across disciplines, involving students and faculty at all levels, from a variety of fields. It will also promote collaboration with external partners, including the Ford Motor Company, which will have a permanent presence on site. It has spaces for teaching, experimentation, and testing, in purpose-built bays and laboratories that represent the state of the art.
These facilities will support a particularly distinctive characteristic of Michigan Robotics: its focus on hardware as well as software.
Michigan Robotics emphasizes making real robots. Many roboticists specialize in simulations, but implementing a real machine in the real world poses real challenges. These new spaces will enable Michigan roboticists to take full advantage of their hands-on orientation in research and teaching, as they work to build machines that better society.
Among the many facilities open to Michigan Robotics students, faculty, and researchers, several provide unique opportunities to develop technologies safely, nimbly, and creatively.
M-Air is a 10,000 sq ft, four-story, netted scientific facility that enables the study of autonomy and collaborative robotics in the “wild,” with emphasis on dealing with the full range of Michigan weather, -30C to 38C, with rain, sleet, wind, and snow.
Mcity is a public-private partnership that operates the world’s first purpose-built proving ground for testing the performance and safety of connected and automated vehicles and technologies under controlled and realistic conditions, all on the Michigan campus.
Tours of the Robotics Building are limited but typically held once a month, and they are subject to ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions. View current tour dates and sign-up here.
For prospective undergraduate students, we recommend utilizing the College of Engineering tour, which begins in our building but covers much more of campus.
For those unable to make it to Michigan, we recommend watching our YouTube channel and Instagram (where we occasionally livestream tours) to get a sense of what’s going on at Michigan Robotics and inside the building.