TROY, Mich., (May 18, 2006)
- Altair Engineering, Inc., and Automation Alley’s Technology Center - in conjunction with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) - announce that they have secured a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant for $2.2 million to proceed with the design and build of two advanced technology prototype buses. That amount, combined with an earlier federal grant in the amount of $550,000, brings the total FTA grant to $2.7 million for the Altair BUSolutions project, to revitalize public transportation through more economical and reliable fleet service. The test project will also provide fresh opportunities for the region’s growing research and product development sector.
The $2.2 million federal funding came from two sources. The Department of Transportation Research and University Research Centers account provided $1.5 million; the additional $0.7 million was provided from the Department of Transportation’s FTA Bus Grants account.
"Not only does this $2.2 million grant validate the government’s initial investment in our preliminary work," said James R. Scapa, president and CEO of Altair. "It also is a testament to the exciting synergy we’ve created when regional government and business leadership work together. This is a great opportunity to showcase the terrific talent we have in this area, as well as to attract new technology resources to Southeast Michigan."
"Automation Alley is delighted to collaborate with Altair Engineering on this venture," said Tom Anderson, director of the Automation Alley Technology Center. "This partnership is a great example of how the Southeast Michigan region is taking a national leadership role on emerging technology issues."
"An efficient public bus system is a key component to meeting our region’s transportation needs," said U.S. Representative Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), a key sponsor for the program. "For fleets to meet their full potential, however, conventional buses must be brought into the 21st century. The bus prototypes to be produced by Automation Alley Technology Center and Altair Engineering have great promise for addressing the challenges public transportation systems face."
"Automation Alley is very grateful for the support we have received from U.S. Congressman Knollenberg, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI)," said Ken Rogers, executive director of Automation Alley. "Michigan is fortunate to have these strong advocates for Michigan’s advanced manufacturing sector in Congress."
The Altair BUSolutions initiative will design and build two demonstration buses that are easily maintainable and efficient to operate in the existing transportation infrastructure, at greatly reduced cost. Altair worked closely with regional transportation authorities - the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) and the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) - to meet regulatory requirements and address the needs of the bus drivers and riders. The project is also included in the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) Regional Transportation Improvement Plan.
"Integrating the right technologies and methods tightly into the design process can have dramatic results," said Michael Heskitt, vice president of Altair Global Engineering. "BUSolutions uses advanced optimization techniques in a design process that is fundamentally different than traditional approaches, while using conventional construction methods, materials and components. The result is a transit bus design that is 30 percent lighter and 40 percent less expensive to own, at a 15 percent lower manufacturing cost. Reduced weight means lower fuel consumption; less wear on city streets and regional roads; reduced brake and tire wear; and reduced noise and pollution."
Once the feasibility of the concept has been cocompletely demonstrated and the performance of the prototype buses has been thoroughly tested, analyzed and evaluated, Altair Engineering plans to commercialize the BUSolutions technology and make it available for public use.
Altair Engineering, Inc.
(248) 614-2400, ext. 464