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Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center, Inc. Partners With The University of Michigan On Advanced Distracted Driving And Powertrain Projects

Partnership places University of Michigan graduate students and professors alongside Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center, Inc. engineers on two separate, advanced vehicle technology projects

- Driver brainwave study measures driver awareness and alertness in an effort to prevent "highway hypnosis," an element of distracted driving

- Powertrain technology enhancements known as Lean Burn Combustion being developed in an effort to help improve fuel efficiency in Hyundai-Kia products


SUPERIOR TWP, MI--Aug. 22, 2013: As an automotive leader and technology innovator, the Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center, Inc. (HATCI) has partnered with the University of Michigan on two advanced automotive engineering projects focused on distracted driving and fuel economy. As a world-renowned university with a main campus located near HATCI's Superior Twp., Mich., location, the University of Michigan provides a deep pool of top-tier scholastic talent and is a logical partner for HATCI. The new projects will pair graduate students and professors from the University's College of Engineering and School of Kinesiology with HATCI vehicle engineers to work alongside each other to produce unique solutions to ever-changing customer needs and technology challenges.

"While we've had many collaborative efforts in the past, this partnership marks the beginning of a much longer-term and more focused relationship that will continue to grow in the coming years," said Dr. Sung Hwan Cho, president, HATCI. "Combining the unbridled enthusiasm and free-spirited thinking of graduate students from a world-class university with the talented technical minds found within HATCI, we can explore new ways in which to approach significant technological hurdles in the automotive industry."

The partnership is beneficial to both parties as, in addition to collaborative research, it provides an engineering recruiting opportunity for HATCI, targeting University of Michigan graduates, and will help retain engineering talent in the local area.

"These new research collaborations with the Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center demonstrate the multi-disciplinary nature of automotive research and have the potential to catalyze further research at the University of Michigan as well as to inform our educational mission," said Umesh Patel, senior director at U-M's Business Engagement Center. "We look forward to the opportunity to strengthen and expand our partnership."

As Kia Motors America (KMA) continues to launch new vehicles in the U.S. market, innovative technologies are finding their way into products that customers can drive today. The 2014 Kia Cadenza is KMA's most technologically advanced vehicle on the road with available features such as lane departure warning, adaptive headlights, adaptive cruise control and blind-spot detection systems.

"KMA puts strong emphasis on incorporating useful advanced technology and innovative safety features into all of our vehicles, and it's projects like this collaboration with the University of Michigan that allow us to differentiate our brand and continue to bring safe, high-quality products to market," said Orth Hedrick, executive director, product planning, KMA. "Utilizing our relationship with the University of Michigan also will allow Kia to capture young and well-educated engineering talent that spawns new ideas and professional execution."

Highway Hypnosis Highway hypnosis is a mental state in which a person can drive great distances without recollection of having consciously done so. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,331 people were killed in distracted driving-related accidents in 2011, and NHTSA estimates another 387,000 more were injured. The team of engineers and students will conduct a way to measure driver brainwaves using Electroencephalograph (EEG) sensors. Utilization of this brainwave activity information has the potential to detect the early onset of driver drowsiness, which would then result in a tactile and audible alert to the driver. Current methods of detecting driver drowsiness are noting changes in head position and eyelid activity, both of which require a longer time to determine potential danger; whereas EEG sensors may detect driver drowsiness prior to the driver's behavioral change taking place.

Dual Pre-Chamber Lean-Burn Combustion The second project coming out of the partnership involves an emphasis on improved fuel economy using a Dual Pre-Chamber (DPC) lean-burn combustion system. This study focuses on combustion chamber and piston dome geometry development to support lean-burn combustion. Initial studies will examine in-cylinder flows using advanced computational fluid dynamics tools to optimize flow. Subsequent work will be carried out using a single cylinder optical engine to visualize the flow and perform further optimization studies. The graduate students will support the single cell optical study while HATCI engineers develop the cylinder hardware. Together, HATCI and University of Michigan engineers will develop and test this new DPC lean-burn combustion system on HATCI's dynamometer.