Ford is the first automaker to test autonomous vehicles at Mcity, a simulated real-world urban environment at the University of Michigan.
The 32-acre facility is part of the university’s Mobility Transformation Center.
Ford has been testing self-driving vehicles for more than 10 years and is now expanding testing on the roads and neighborhoods of Mcity near the North Campus Research Complex to accelerate research of advanced sensing technologies.
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.
Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle merges driver-assist technologies, such as front-facing cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors, and adds four LiDAR sensors to generate a real-time 3D map of the vehicle’s surrounding environment.
Mcity opened in July. The full-scale urban environment provides real-world road scenarios — such as running a red light — that can’t be replicated on public roads. There are streetlights, crosswalks, lane delineators, curb cuts, bike lanes, trees, hydrants, sidewalks, signs, traffic control devices and construction barriers.
Ford is testing the Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle over a range of surfaces, such as concrete, asphalt, simulated brick and dirt, and maneuvering two-, three- and four-lane roads, as well as ramps, roundabouts and tunnels.
Ryan Eustice, University of Michigan associate professor and principal investigator in Ford’s research collaboration with the university, says Mcity provides a scaling factor for autonomous vehicle testing. “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,” Eustice says.