New test facility will be proving ground for driverless cars

The US automotive capital is still Detroit, with a rich history of fantastic cars streaming out of the city. Michigan may hold onto the crown of automotive capital of the US, as a new Mobility Transformation Facility is being opened in southern Michigan. The facility is essentially a testing ground for automated vehicles, with traffic lights and other road conditions simulated as needed.

The 30 acre facility will basically act as a makeshift city; one that can be changed at will. Buildings and obstacles can be repositioned to test the car's true learning potential. There is also a variety of roadway geometry that can be considered, as well as stationary of mechanical pedestrians.

Ford will christen the city with their new Fusion, but GM and Toyota are also on board. The cars here will be automated, with drivers on board the entire time. Though most of the driving will be autonomous, a human will still get the final word.

The "city" can also serve as a means to test other connected car concepts, such as connected lighting or other stationary devices. The University of Michigan will spearhead the technical development, with Edwin Olson, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering, saying "We will actually be writing code for the test facility. We'll be able to trigger tricky traffic signal timings, or a pedestrian stepping into the intersection at just the wrong time, for example."

The University added "In the future, your car will talk to other cars, to traffic lights, and to other roadside devices. And the roadway will talk back, too,. Your Connected Vehicle will find out about such things as traffic tie-ups, icy roads, disabled vehicles, and lane closures." It's not just about the smart car, it's about the smart environment we can create for them.

Source: The University of Michigan

Via: Motherboard