FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A new planning grant will be used to develop a roadmap for smart mobility initiatives at the University of Arkansas, a press release announced.

“Smart mobility” is defined as autonomous, electrified, interconnected, and shared and is changing how goods are delivered and transported.

A press release lists the university’s targeted smart mobility innovation areas as follows:

  • 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.

Dr. Nachtmann said the university’s main focus will be bringing up the next generation of mobility leaders.

“Every day we see children building LEGO sets, flying drones, programming video games for fun, and we need them to understand that there are careers that are fun in these areas,” Nachtmann said.

“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 alleviate our existing capacity into a transformational vision to drive smart mobility workforce development and innovation.”

The grant will allow the university to plan programs and research targeting news ways to get around.

“Innovation and smart mobility will transform traditional supply chains and change the way we travel, shop, work and build,” Nachtmann said.

Nachtmann was recently appointed to the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility formed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson who recognized the state as a world leader in smart mobility.

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, the release said.

Dr. Nachtmann told KNWA/FOX 24 that its’ inspiring to see so much innovation taking place in Arkansas.

“In awe of all the innovation that’s happening, and then also it’s so wonderful to see that it’s happening in our own home community,” Nachtmann said.