Mcity Opens as Test Environment for Connected and Automated Vehicles

University of Michigan unveils test facility, plans to launch automated vehicle networks by 2021.

The Mobility Transformation Center opened this week at the University of Michigan. The goal of this test environment is to further research in automated and connected vehicles. Automakers, suppliers, government agencies and safety representatives are all partnering with the university to test new vehicles and features.

Peter Sweatman is the director of the center of the facility and hopes that the controlled, safe environment will allow vehicles to be tested efficiently and safety. Michigan is the home to 375 automotive research centers, and boasts the highest concentration of industrial and mechanical engineers in the United States.

Images courtesy Mobility Transformation Center

The facility has a 1000 foot north/south straightaway that can be used to calibrate gps systems and variations in road surfaces, lane widths, and grades. A roundabout, underpass features, and a tunnel are also present to give vehicles as many different traffic situations as possible.

Previous testing by the university included the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Model Deployment, a joint venture with the US Department of Transportation. Researchers equipped almost 3,000 private vehicles in Ann Arbor along with traffic points in the city to study vehicle position, direction of travel and speed.

9,000 connected vehicles were tested throughout the twenty seven mile area in 2014 and the goal for the Southeast Michigan Connected Vehicle Deployment is 20,000 vehicles between 2017 and 2019. The vision is that a network of fully connected and automated vehicles will be on the city’s roads by 2021.

Mcity is a huge undertaking that looks impressive in the videos. Here in Michigan we’ve been bombarded with press over the last few days and an open house is planned for June 23, 2015 to show off the premises to media. This is a great example of engineers doing research to move technology forward – there’s a lot of public relations here but also a great deal of inspiring engineering ideas about mobility and the future.

Images courtesy Mobility Transformation Center