Michigan’s Mock City: Where Robot Cars Will Drive (And, Ideally, Not Crash)

A purpose-built simulated town and suburb for testing autonomous vehicles–is to open this fall on 32 acres at the University of Michigan’s North Campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Mobility Transformation Facility will include straight and curving roads of asphalt and concrete, including traffic signs, stoplights, merge lanes, traffic circles, a railroad crossing, sidewalks, and streetlights.

Facades of roadside buildings will simulate the visual environment, and construction barrels and orange signs will simulate road work. There will even, ultimately, be a “mechanical pedestrian” who may not only walk on the sidewalks but perhaps dash into traffic.

The first car to use its roads will be an automated Ford Fusion Hybrid. Its maker is careful to highlight that it envisions “a future in which humans stay behind the wheel and automated technologies enhance their abilities,” although other parties go further, with the goal of removing the piloting task entirely from today’s “driver.”

The university calls it a “transportation experiment,” and it’s funded jointly by local and regional governments, major automakers, and the university’s college of engineering.

The goal is to make Michigan–still the home of three out of four U.S. automakers–the North American hub for research into self-driving and connected car technology.

Source: JOHN VOELCKER, Green Car Reports

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