7/21/2015 | 1 MINUTE READ

Driverless-Car Test City Opens in Michigan

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The University of Michigan's Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) on Monday officially opened its new Mcity campus in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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The University of Michigan's Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) on Monday officially opened its new Mcity campus in Ann Arbor, Mich. The 32-acre proving grounds is designed to test self-driving and connected vehicles.

Located adjacent to the university's Transportation Research Institute, Mcity allows researchers and automotive companies to simulate a variety of repeatable real-world conditions in a controlled environment.

Proving grounds for autonomous cars

The $6.5 million complex's driving course has 13 intersections including angled crossways and a traffic circle a bridge and tunnel, streetlights, traffic signals, lane markings, gravel roads, construction barriers, sidewalks, bus stops, parked cars, obstructed views and 40 building facades. It also has a four-lane highway with entrance and exit ramps, and simulated pedestrians, bicyclists and traffic jams.

The course replicates challenging situations such as faded lane markings, defaced road signs one even has a bullet hole and mechatronic pedestrians jumping out at approaching vehicles.

The goal is to accelerate research and development and safely test advanced technologies that will enable autonomous vehicles and communication between vehicles, the surrounding infrastructure and third-party partners. Once a technology is proven at Mcity, it can then be tested on public roads.

Construction of Mcity began about a year ago. MTC, which was formed in 2013, will have use of the grounds for seven years, after which the simulation course is likely to be razed. In addition to the University of Michigan, the joint project includes corporate sponsors and funding from the Michigan Dept. of Transportation. Industry partners include automakers Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Toyota. Among the supplier partners are Bosch, Delphi, Denso, other traditional suppliers and telematics companies.

The group aims to have a shared network of connected and self-driving vehicles on public roads in Ann Arbor by 2021. The fleet will include 2,000 automated vehicles and 9,000 connected vehicles three times the current number on the city's streets. MTC is also partnering with industry and MDOT to put 20,000 connected vehicles on the road in southeast Michigan.