Companies have a new place to test their driverless cars
A large proving ground for autonomous vehicles has just opened near Ann Arbor, Michigan, with Toyota and Ford among the investors for the space. Although not finished yet, the American Center for Mobility offers a number of real-world environments for testing out the capabilities of autonomous cars.
The center consists of a 2.5-mile (4-km) highway loop, two double overpasses, a 700-foot curved tunnel, intersections, and roundabouts. Automakers can test here day and night, and under various weather conditions including sun, ice, rain, and snow. Toyota engineers arrived on the site December 13 for an orientation and driver training program. The Japanese automaker, as well as vehicle electronics supplier Visteon, are the first companies to use the site. Others are expected to arrive next week.
So far, the site has received $110 million USD in funding for the first two phases of the project, with more investments coming soon. Phase one construction kicked off this past May, and the next phase is expected to begin in the spring of 2018. At this time, the center will have an urban driving environment.
The test site is located on the 500-acre historic site where B-24 bombers were built during World War II. The site should help Michigan stay relevant in a changing world where the focus on car technology has centered on Silicon Valley as of late.
“This technology posed a hell of a lot of risk to this state,” Doug Rothwell, CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan and chairman of ACM’s board, told Automotive News affiliate Crain’s Detroit Business. “I’m heartened that everyone pulled together—state government, the private sector, universities—so that we could solidify our role in this growing part of the industry.”
Other than Ford, Visteon, and Toyota, other founders of the site include AT&T and Hyundai America Technical Center. These companies have priority for testing at the site, although others are welcome to use the space.
Source: American Center for Mobility, Automotive News (Subscription required)
Photos: American Center for Mobility