University of Michigan opens 32-acre city for testing driverless cars

An entire “city” has opened within the the University of Michigan campus and its sole purpose is to test connected and driverless vehicle technology. Mcity is the world’s first controlled environment that was designed to test the technologies that will eventually bring the driverless car to the masses.

The simulated urban and suburban environment, opened officially on Monday, incorporates real roads with intersections, traffic signs, streetlights, building fronts, sidewalks and even construction obstacles. The city has been designed for repeated testing of new technologies before they hit the public streets and highways since testing in a controlled environments with real-life obstacles can help prevent safety issues down the road.

“We believe that this transformation to connected and automated mobility will be a game changer for safety, for efficiency, for energy, and for accessibility,” said Peter Sweatman, director of the U-M Mobility Transformation Center. “Our cities will be much better to live in, our suburbs will be much better to live in. These technologies truly open the door to 21st century mobility.”

Mcity will offer researchers the ability to simulate every aspect of an environment where connected and automated vehicles may encounter the most difficulties. For example, minor details like a road sign with graffiti written on it or faded lane marks will be implemented to explore the challenge it may pose for a connected vehicle.

The types of technologies that will be tested at the facility include connected technologies – vehicles talking to other vehicles or to the infrastructure, commonly known as V2V or V2I – and various levels of automation all the way up to fully autonomous, or driverless vehicles.

It’s no surprise that entire automotive test city would open in Michigan, where Detroit, commonly referred to as “Motor City,” is located. The state is home to 375 automotive research centers and has the highest concentration of industrial and mechanical engineers in the United States. One of the main goals of the project is to develop and implement an advanced system of connected and automated vehicles in Ann Arbor by 2021.

For an overview of Mcity, view the video below.

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