32-acre campus to test driverless cars opens in Ann Arbor

32-acre campus to test driverless cars opens in Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan last week opened Mcity, a controlled environment designed to test connected and automated vehicle technologies to be used in mass market driverless cars.

–We believe that this transformation to connected and automated mobility will be a game changer for safety, for efficiency, for energy, and for accessibility,” said Peter Sweatman, director of the U-M Mobility Transformation Center.

The 32-acre site simulates an urban and suburban environment that includes a network of roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, streetlights, building facades, sidewalks and construction obstacles. It is designed to support rigorous, repeatable testing of new technologies before they are tried out on public roads.

Designers made a point of including realistic details, such as road signs defaced by graffiti and faded lane markings. Researchers will be able to test real-life situations including whether automatic braking systems can detect bicyclists or pedestrians who walk into a busy street from behind a truck.

Mcity researchers will test connected technologies vehicles talking to other cars or to the infrastructure (V2V or V2I) and various levels of automation up to fully autonomous vehicles.

Although Google has tested autonomous vehicles on public roads in California and Texas, U-M researchers said that Michiganês cold weather will give them a chance to test how the cars react to ice on the road or snow obscuring lane markings.

Mcity is a public-private partnership among industry, state government and academia. Sponsors include several automakers and suppliers. The universityês goal is to put a shared network of connected, automated vehicles on the road in Ann Arbor by 2021.

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