Michigan’s “M City” is Ready to Test Driverless Cars

Earlier this month, the University of Michigan announced that “M City”, a 32-acre environment to test self-driving and autonomous cars, will be ready for use in Spring 2015.

“Connected and automated vehicle technology will usher in a revolution in the mobility of people and goods comparable to that sparked by the introduction of the automobile a century ago,” said Peter Sweatman, director of U-M’s Mobility Transformation Center.

 

The Mobility Transformation Center is a public-private partnership between the university and companies including Delphi Automotive, DENSO Corp., Honda, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Xerox and others. The MTC is responsible for the development of M City.

 

We mentioned the coming of M City when we wrote about Mercedes Benz’s plan to build a city on a portion of the Concord Weapons Depot for the same purposes.

“M City will allow us to rigorously test new approaches in a safe, controlled and realistic environment before we implement them on actual streets,” Sweatman said.

 

The initial phase of M City is just 5 miles of road.  Granted, you can do a lot with 5 miles.  But here’s what else the MTC has in store:

The MTC is also developing on-roadway deployments of more than 20,000 cars, trucks and buses across southeastern Michigan to serve as testbeds for evaluating consumer behavior and exploring market opportunities.

 

U-M officials said the goal of connected vehicles is to allow them to communicate with each other and to different elements of the infrastructure.

 

The connected vehicles anonymously and securely exchange data — including location, speed and direction — with other vehicles and the surrounding infrastructure via wireless communication devices. This data can warn individual drivers of traffic tie-ups or emerging dangerous situations, such as a car slipping on ice around an upcoming curve, or a car that may be likely to run a red light ahead.

 

Automated vehicles will be equipped with new systems of situation awareness and control that increasingly replace elements of human response and behavior, officials said.

 

Just to make it clear, we here at HECN do not see completely driverless cars anytime soon; nor do we advocate for it.  Absent a government mandate that all existing vehicles adopt self-driving within a certain time period, something that would truly cause insurrection, there are too many variables to overcome for people to feel safe.  Right now, there are too many non driverless cars that will wreak havoc.  You have lane allocation problems; especially in urban areas and those completely dependent on 2-lane roads.

We look forward to the technology maturing.  All of these innovations could easily be integrated into autonomous driving; where the driver has the option to take control on-demand.

 

 

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Sebastian James

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