While it’s not up to Hollywood standards and nobody would mistake it for a real downtown or even a suburb, the Michigan state has its first robot testing grounds, complete with everything a city would deliver – from traffic jams to scary, hazardous situations.
It’s all in the name of progress, naturally, with the MCity inaugurated on Monday as a 32-acre complex on the back of the University of Michigan’s North Campus – his only job is to “create an accelerated learning environment” that will assist in the development of autonomous transportation, according to Peter Sweatman, the head of the university’s Transportation Research Institute. Automakers, suppliers and certain technology companies such as Internet search behemoth Google have already taken their autonomous prototypes to the public roads for testing, but the MCity has the advantage of allowing them “to take the unusual things that happen on the road and repeat them as often as we want.” That means numerous hazardous scenarios could be delivered to the robot cars without any chance of human injuries or casualties.
The $10 million public-private project has received support from a wide array of interested parties: Detroit’s Big Three automakers, Japan’s Toyota, Nissan and Honda, and even China’s Changan Automobile Group. And there’s the crop of global suppliers – such as Delphi or Denso, alongside top technology companies such as Verizon, Xerox and Qualcomm. The fake city is laden with streets, freeway interchanges, fake buildings, sidewalks, traffic lights and street lights. And the people will be there to redesign the layouts whenever needed as development advances, while Jim Sayer, the MCity project’s development director added an additional advantage of the location has to do with weather – which will span the full length of all four seasons.