US: University of Michigan ready to open hub for autonomous vehicle testing image

At the University of Michigan’s North Campus, an area of around 32 acres is ready to become a crucial development hub for the race to research and develop driverless and connected autos.

The East coast is seeking an edge over the Silicon Valley and even Europe when it comes to developments related to self-driving and connected car activities and systems, with Google, Apple, Tesla and Uber – all located on the West Coast – moving alone with their own driverless and connected technology strategies. Thus, the University of Michigan could prove a key asset for the traditional automakers such as General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Nissan and Honda as they look ready to join their forces, resources and human intelligence to research and develop robotics, software and electrical engineering that could prove vital in the upcoming stage of mobility. “There’s a real risk that the auto industry’s center of gravity could shift to the West Coast, so we must use the resources we already have here,” comments Jay Ellis, director of the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization program at the University.

Real world conditions will be available for students, automotive engineers and telecommunications experts to test vehicles, develop and showcase software and then analyze it in conditions that can never be achieved in closed environments. The simulated environment, called M City, is providing a controlled setting to maximize safety, unlike Google’s take to hit the streets of northern California with its growing batch of driverless prototypes. A 4.2 mile network will have multiple lanes, intersections, roundabouts, road signs and marker, sidewalks, bus stop shelters, building facades, streetlights, parked cars and pedestrians – with operations starting late July.