Ford, General Motors, Honda and Toyota are among the companies each investing $1 million over three years in the University of Michigan’s Mcity — the world’s first controlled environment specifically designed to test the potential of connected and automated vehicle technologies that will lead the way to mass-market driverless cars.
Self-driving vehicles can provide a wide range of benefits to the logistics sector including improved road safety, greater fuel efficiency and reduced environmental impact, according to a DHL report published late last year.
Mcity, which opened yesterday, will “will be a game changer for safety, for efficiency, for energy, and for accessibility,” says Peter Sweatman, director of the U-M Mobility Transformation Center.
The public-private partnership was designed and developed by U-M’s interdisciplinary MTC, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).
Mcity is a 32-acre simulated urban and suburban environment that includes a network of roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, streetlights, building facades, sidewalks and construction obstacles. It is designed to support repeatable testing of new technologies before they are tried out on public streets and highways.
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.
A key MTC goal is to put a shared network of connected, automated (including driverless) vehicles on the road in Ann Arbor by 2021.
MTC is working closely with 15 Leadership Circle member companies, each investing $1 million over three years. Thirty-three Affiliate Members are also contributing, and investing $150,000 over three years. Current Leadership Circle companies are:
- Delphi Automotive
- Econolite Group
- General Motors
- Qualcomm Technologies
- Robert Bosch
- State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
- Verizon Communications