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University of Michigan to build test facility for connected and automated vehicles
19 October 2013
The University of Michigan Board of Regents approved plans to proceed with the design of a unique environment for testing connected and automated vehicles. The facility, which simulates a dynamic urban environment, is a critical element of a joint project with industry and government to develop and implement an entire system of connected and automated vehicles on the streets of Southeastern Michigan by 2021.
Occupying 30 acres at the U-M’s North Campus Research Complex, the novel test environment will include approximately three lane-miles of roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, sidewalks, benches, simulated buildings, street lights and obstacles such as construction barriers. Current plans call for the facility to be completed by fall 2014 at a cost of about $6.5 million.
There have been a host of innovations in this arena in recent years, but one of the major challenges ahead is to ensure that these vehicles can perform safely and reliably in a complex urban setting. Testing a workable system of such technologies in a realistic off-road environment is an essential step before a significant number of vehicles can be safely implemented on actual roadways.—Peter Sweatman, director of the U-M Mobility Transformation Center (MTC)
Funding for the new research facility will be provided by U-M’s Office of Research, College of Engineering, Transportation Research Institute, Energy Institute and Office of the Provost, in partnership with the MDOT.
Launched last spring, the MTC builds on U-M’s broad base of expertise and experience working with government and industry on transportation research over the years. With $25 million in funding from the US Department of Transportation, U-M recently implemented the world’s largest on-road vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure model deployment in Ann Arbor, with more than 3,000 users. This project, which includes several industry participants,is providing data to inform future policy decisions by the US DOT.
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