Numerous industry suppliers are joining together to help sponsor a new $6.5-million one-of-a-kind test track and related research programs aimed at perfecting connected and automated vehicles with the goal of bringing them to the mainstream automotive marketplace as quickly as possible.
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Known as Mcity and operated by the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center (MTC), the site is a 32-acre simulated urban and suburban environment featuring a series of roads complete with intersections, traffic signs and signals, streetlights, building facades, sidewalks and construction obstacles. It provides a proving ground for current connected and automated vehicle applications along with providing a cooperative environment for exploring future technologies.
“We feel that the level of research and the opportunity for collaboration offered through Mcity is necessary to reach our goal that the intersections of the future are collision-free and safer for all roadway users,” says Gary Duncan, chief technology officer at the Econolite Group, which is among the project’s array of investors.
The company conducted a demonstration of its recent developments at Mcity’s July grand opening ceremony. DENSO, Delphi, Bosch and other sponsoring vendors also did demos at the event. Additional corporate Mcity supporters include BorgWarner, TRW, Qualcomm, AGC Automotive, Arada Systems, Brandmotion, Calspan, DURA Automotive Systems, Faurecia, Iteris, Harman, Hitachi, State Farm, the AAA, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and China’s Changan Automobile.
“Connected and automated vehicles hold the potential to dramatically improve the safety, sustainability and accessibility of our mobility system,” says MTC director Dr. Peter Sweatman, citing the ongoing importance of industry involvement with the school’s Affiliates Program, which has 27 initial member firms. “Through this consortium arrangement, we seek to engage the range of cutting-edge technology suppliers, thought leaders and entrepreneurs required to inform and drive progress toward that transformative vision.”
A broad range of affiliated sectors are represented, such as auto manufacturing, vehicle communication devices, chips and hardware, insurance, advanced modeling, big data acquisition and intelligent transportation systems.
“Only by bringing together partners from these sectors as well as from government will we be able to address the full complexity of the challenges ahead as we all work to realize the opportunities presented by this emerging technology,” Sweatman says. “I am thrilled with the diversity and global reach of the new ecosystem of companies and agencies we have created. Our founding Leadership Circle provides a unique nucleus for collaboration, deployment and rapid learning in connected and automated mobility.”