Smart mobility is revolutionizing how we move goods and people.

Grant to develop roadmap for smart mobility initiatives


Smart mobility is revolutionizing the way we move goods and people.

Photo by Jared Sorrells, 4media group

Smart mobility is revolutionizing the way we move goods and people.

A new planning grant will support the University of Arkansas’ vision to become the leading university in smart mobility.

Smart mobility – autonomous, electrified, interconnected and shared – is revolutionizing the way we move goods and people and will disrupt transport business models. Now more than ever, it’s 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 will disrupt traditional supply chain operations. The need to reduce our environmental footprint and create a more sustainable approach to moving goods and services, as well as the increasing demand for more intelligent and safer means of transport, will lead to innovative solutions in electric, connected and autonomous vehicles.

Unmanned Air Mobility: Fueled by the 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 the way customers shop, retailers fulfill orders, warehouses manage operations and shippers provide logistics and transportation 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 the collection, analysis and dissemination of transport system performance data to reduce congestion and ensure 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, leads the campus-wide effort for smart mobility planning.

“As the emerging field of smart mobility advances, it is critical to develop our comprehensive vision now to leverage our competitive advantage in this rapidly evolving industry,” said Nachtmann. “We have all the essential components: strategic industry partners, an innovative ecosystem and world-renowned experts. This planning grant enables the university to reduce our existing capacity to a transformational vision to drive the development and innovation of smart workforce mobility.”

Nachtmann was recently appointed to the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility. The board, chaired by Cyrus Sigari, co-founder of UP Partners, is made up of representatives from Walmart, Canoo, JB Hunt, Entergy, Arkansas Trucking Association, Arkansas Auto Dealers Association and multiple government agencies. Nachtmann will serve on the Council’s Academic and Personnel Development Subcommittee.

“Governor Hutchinson recognized Arkansas as the global 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,” Nachtmann said.

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

With more than fifty faculties specializing in education and research in the fields of supply chain and transportation, the university is actively involved in private and public partnerships to promote smart mobility. As an important partner in the regional innovation ecosystem, the university works, through the Department of Economic Development, to create opportunities for economic prosperity through the commercialization of smart mobility innovations through new start-ups and spin-outs.

“This grant will provide a roadmap for the university — and Arkansas’s — 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 activities, innovation and workforce development.”

The Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation planning grant runs for eight months and supports efforts such as pilot studies, industry and peer benchmarking, content marketing, and education and workforce development planning.

About the University of Arkansas: As a flagship institution in Arkansas, the U of A offers internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A carries over $2.2 billion for the Arkansas economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activities, while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation ranks the U of A in the top 3.7% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. US news and world report ranks the U of A among the best public universities in the nation. See how the U of A is working on a better world at Research News in Arkansas

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