As autonomous driving seems to be an inevitable feature in the future of mobility, Ford Motor Company makes a huge leap forward by being the first automaker to test its autonomous vehicles at University of Michigan’s ‘full-scale simulated real-world urban environment’ called Mcity.
The facility comes complete with everything a highly urbanized city has including ‘real-world road scenarios,’ which can’t be replicated in real life like ‘running a red light.’ It comes with street lamps, pedestrian lanes, bike lanes, sidewalks, traffic signs and even incidentals like public construction. Road surfaces also vary from concrete, asphalt, simulated brick and dirt, and also changes from two-, three- and four-lane roads, as well as ramps, roundabouts and tunnels.
“The goal of Mcity is that we get a scaling factor. 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,” said Ryan Eustice, University of Michigan associate professor and co-investigator in Ford’s research collaboration with the university.
Ford already has 10 years of autonomous vehicle testing as it continues to expand its research and increase efforts by using Mcity’s 13-hectare facility.
“Testing Ford’s autonomous vehicle fleet at Mcity provides another challenging, yet safe, urban environment to repeatedly check and hone these new technologies. This is an important step in making millions of people’s lives better and improving their mobility,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president for Global Product Development.