Today a simulated city is scheduled to become open on the northern campus of the University of Michigan – dedicated in its entirety to the study of how autonomous cars will drive in the real world in the near future.
Self-driving cars need to be tested in safe environments before being unleashed completely on their own on the streets of our cities, as companies study how they can avert the robot cars hitting pedestrian or causing climactic crashes. “We had the faculty here at the university design the fully evolved future,” comments Peter Sweatman, head of the Transportation Research Institute. “After all, we’re replacing humans with machines and those machines need to be able to operate in a full, rich environment,” added the official of the institute, which acts as the primary caretaker of the M City test facility. Automakers and their suppliers are now competing to research and develop driverless cars and also modify their business models for a world where mobility is being revolutionized – predictions call for most of the world’s population to gather into massive megacities during the next two decades. And autonomous vehicles that can harmoniously navigate the urban jungle might become the norm and an essential part of everyday life to allow a safe and efficient flow of people and goods.
M City, designed as a 32-acre (13-hectare) mini-metropolis, has been built to mimic modern urban chaos with traffic jams and unpredictable pedestrians, alongside suburban streetscapes, superhighways and rural roads. Worth $6.5 million, the facility is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan and has 40 building facades, angled intersections, a traffic circle, a bridge, a tunnel, gravel roads and plenty of obstructed views and even a four-lane highway with entrance and exit ramps.