This July, the University of Michigan will open ‘M City,’ a 32-acre complex for testing automated and connected vehicles. Complete with a cityscape and nearly every road scenario the engineers could think up, the unique facility is an important step in advancing and improving the ways that people and goods move from place to place.
One of the major development hurdles associated with driverless cars is the need for extensive, comprehensive testing. And no matter our feelings on the technology itself, I think we can all appreciate that. M City addresses one of the most important development issues—the difficulty of testing in a real-world environment. With the opening of this facility, researchers will now be able to fully deploy their technologies safely on actual roads while experiencing day-to-day and extreme scenarios one would encounter in urban and suburban locales.
M City will be located at the North Campus Research Center. The unique facility will give researchers the opportunity to create any number of potential scenarios for testing their vehicles. But I think there’s a research objective here that may have a larger, more immediate impact. M City will host automated mobility systems technologies. Think large scale networks of connected automated vehicles; operating in conjunction with one another for maximum efficiency, safety, usability, and accessibility. And this is just the beginning. According to the University of Michigan, “a key goal of the U-M initiative, which involves researchers from a wide range of disciplines across campus, is to implement a connected and automated mobility system on the streets of southeastern Michigan by 2021.”
In typical Michigan fashion, there’s even a roundabout. The roads are completed. Below is an aerial view of the facility layout (without the buildings or automation technologies).
M City is the result of a collaborative, public-private partnership known as the Mobility Transformation Center (MTC). The MTC brings together academic and industry leaders from across many fields with representatives from companies such as Xerox, Honda, Ford, General Motors, Delphi Automotive, and others. For a complete list, see here.
Photo Credits: Mobility Transformation Center