University of Michigan’s 32-acre test city is put to use.
Ford has begun testing at the University of Michigan’s new Mcity autonomous vehicle testing site, which is part of the school’s Mobility Transformation Center. Automakers can safely run autonomous cars in simulated real-world environments at the 32-acre facility, performing tests that wouldn’t be possible on public streets.
“Testing Ford’s autonomous vehicle fleet at Mcity provides another challenging, yet safe, urban environment to repeatedly check and hone these new technologies,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development, in a release. “This is an important step in making millions of people’s lives better and improving their mobility.”
With the Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle, the automaker can test new driver-assist technologies including front-facing cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors, and LiDAR sensors to generate a real-time 3D map of the vehicle’s surrounding environment.
The facility features common elements found in city driving including street lights, crosswalks, lane delineators, curb cuts, bike lanes, trees, hydrants, sidewalks, signs, traffic control devices, and construction barriers. Various road surfaces are also present such as concrete, asphalt, simulated brick, and dirt. Mcity allows automakers to test different scenarios that would be unsafe on public streets such as what happens if the car were to run a red light. Additionally, the vehicles encounter two-, three-, and four-lane maneuvers, onramps, roundabouts, and tunnels.
“The goal of Mcity is that we get a scaling factor. Every mile driven there can represent 10, 100 or 1,000 miles of on-road driving in terms of our ability to pack in the occurrences of difficult events,” said Ryan Eustice, University of Michigan associate professor and principal investigator in Ford’s research collaboration with the university.