Grant to Develop Roadmap for Smart Mobility Initiatives

Smart mobility is revolutionizing how we move goods and people.
Photo by Jared Sorrells, 4media group

Smart mobility is revolutionizing how we move goods and people.

A new planning grant will support the University of Arkansas’ vision of becoming the preeminent university in smart mobility. 

Smart mobility – autonomous, electrified, interconnected and shared – is revolutionizing how we move goods and people and will disrupt transportation sector business models. Now more than ever, it is easy to imagine how smart mobility innovation will transform traditional supply chains and change the way we travel, shop, work and build.

The university’s targeted smart mobility innovation areas include:

Next-Generation Vehicles: Many of today’s business models will become obsolete as advances in next-generation vehicles disrupt traditional supply chain operations. The need to reduce our carbon footprint and create a more sustainable approach to moving goods and services, as well as the increasing demands for more intelligent and safe means of transport, will spark innovative solutions in electric, connected and autonomous vehicles.

Unmanned Aerial Mobility: Sparked by increasing demand for faster delivery, unmanned aerial vehicles or drones as they are commonly called are expected to transform the logistics industry. These agile, remotely piloted aircraft will disrupt the multimodal freight network and change how customers shop, retailers fulfill orders, warehouses manage operations and shippers provide logistics and transport services.

Artificial Intelligence for Smart Mobility: Information derived from new sources of smart mobility data can improve consumer and shipper experiences, support efficient logistics management and inform investment decisions. Artificial intelligence solutions for smart mobility will enable transportation system performance data collection, analysis and dissemination systems to reduce congestion and provide for efficient and accessible multimodal transport.

Heather Nachtmann, professor of industrial engineering, 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. 

“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,” said Nachtmann.  “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.”

Nachtmann was recently appointed to the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility. Chaired by Cyrus Sigari, co-founder of UP Partners, the council includes representatives from Walmart, Canoo, J.B. Hunt, Entergy, Arkansas Trucking Association, Arkansas Auto Dealers Association and multiple state agencies.  Nachtmann will serve on the council’s Academic and Workforce Development Subcommittee.

“Governor Hutchinson recognized Arkansas as the world leader in smart mobility when he formed this Council. I am honored to serve the State in this capacity and look forward to contributing to their important work,” said Nachtmann. 

The University of Arkansas is a nationally competitive research leader in smart logistics and supply chain innovation and home to the highly ranked departments of industrial engineering in the College of Engineering and supply chain management in the Sam M. Walton College of Business, along with a new interdisciplinary data science program.

With more than fifty faculty who specialize in supply chain and transportation education and research, the university is actively engaged in private and public partnerships advancing smart mobility. As a key partner in the regional innovation ecosystem, the university, through the Division of Economic Development, works to create opportunities for economic prosperity through the commercialization of smart mobility innovations via new startups and spinouts.

“This grant will provide a roadmap for the university’s – and Arkansas’ – drive to be the epicenter of smart mobility,” said Mike Malone, vice chancellor for economic development. “These technologies have the potential to transform traditional supply chains and business models. 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.”

The planning grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation will span eight months and support efforts such as pilot research studies, industry and peer benchmarking, content marketing, and education and workforce development planning. 

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3.7% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.

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