Cisco looks to Detroit to pilot its connected roadway project for autonomous vehicles

  • Cisco is partnering with the state of Michigan on a three-year digital development project.
  • The California-based networking company is looking to partner with the state on self-driving car programs which would link vehicles to public infrastructure.
  • Cisco chose Michigan in part because of its long history in car manufacturing.

It’s not just startups and ex-Brooklynites with an eye on Detroit.

The Silicon Valley-based networking giant Cisco is teaming up with the state of Michigan on a digital growth initiative to boost the regional tech economy and grow its workforce, the company announced Monday.

“The state is electric right now,”Alison Gleeson, senior vice president at Cisco, told The Detroit News. “You feel it as you walk in the city of Detroit. You feel it everywhere. We’re at a 17-year low in terms of unemployment, so it’s pretty exciting.”

This partnership makes Michigan the first state to join Cisco’s State Digital Acceleration (SDA) program, a local version an existing global development program already deployed in a handful of countries, including France, Mexico, and China.

The company did not disclose how much money is going into the three-year partnership.

Part of the appeal to Cisco is Detroit’s history of car manufacturing, the company said on its blog. Cisco is looking to team up with the Department of Transportation to launch a self-driving car adjacent networking project called Cisco Connect Roadways, which would connect public infrastructure with vehicles in order to have a central database of traffic information.

The project is also set to include a partnership with Wayne State University, to develop a 25,000 square-foot “smart/digital manufacturing center,” as well as an expansion of Cisco’s existing IT training program, called the Education and Networking Academy.

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