4/13/2014 | 1 MINUTE READ

U-Mich Building Test Track for Connected Cars

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The University of Michigan is constructing a $6.5 million complex in which to test connected and self-driving vehicles.

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The University of Michigan is constructing a $6.5 million complex in which to test connected and self-driving vehicles. The facility is expected to be completed this autumn.

Housed within the 30-acre site will be three lane-miles of concrete and asphalt roadway, intersections, sidewalks, roundabouts, simulated buildings, traffic signals and signs, streetlights, benches and such obstacles as construction barriers.

The project is being co-funded by a grant from the Michigan Dept. of Transportation and the university's College of Engineering, Office of Research and Office of the Provost.

The facility will be part of the U-Mich.'s year-old Mobility Transformation Center. MTC is working with the state of Michigan to install "smart" infrastructure for 20,000 connected vehicles across southeastern Michigan. The program will expand upon a just-ended 3,000-car connectivity demonstration project in Ann Arbor. Mich. That three-year, $15 million effort was funded by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation and coordinated by the U-Mich. Transportation Research Institute.

"We are on the cusp of a revolution in transportation unlike any we've seen since the introduction of the automobile," declares UMTRI and MTC Director Peter Sweatman. He adds that testing a workable connectivity system in a realistic off-roadway setting is an essential step to implement technologies that promise to ease traffic flow, reduce energy consumption, cut emissions and improve traffic safety.