Tim Shults
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5 Reasons Michigan’s Building a Connected Car Test Track

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Soon, the University of Michigan will have its own test track that spans 32 acres
Pictured: ACI Vallelunga track near Rome, Wikipedia

While most of the developments concerning connected cars and smart road technology have been coming from the West coast, plans are in the works to test vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure systems in a whole new way.

Car and Driver reported that the University of Michigan is working on America’s first closed track specifically dedicated to testing connected cars. With a connected car test track, it will be even easier for smart technology to be perfected.

Here are five reasons the University of Michigan‘s “M City” track, which is opening this spring near Ann Arbor, is an wise investment.

Related: In-car connectivity revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show

Affirming the University of Michigan’s Connected Car Test Track

It will be the first of its kind in the United States. Other countries have constructed similar tracks to test active-safety technology, but none of them will offer the 32-acre real estate that Michigan is planning. Undeniably, the US needs its own track to fully embrace this technology, and Michigan is an ideal place for it. The state offers weather varying conditions, surrounding production facilities, and a major auto show at which to promote the M City track.

It will provide a safe, realistic venue for testing. Having a closed track dedicated to testing allows engineers to establish practical situations without property damage or public danger (like testing on public roads does). Pedestrian dummies, intersections with traffic signals, parked vehicles, five-lane roads, roundabouts, sidewalks, bus stops, and construction zones can all be replicated at M City–which the facility is planning to do.

It will be a third-party venue that brands can use. If mainstream automakers are going to hop on board connected technology, they need to perfect the software, sensors, and integration as much as possible. The M City track will give many automakers a chance to explore this technology at a state-of-the-art facility in ways they couldn’t elsewhere. The Unviersity of Michigan plans to partner with General Motors, Ford, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota, Verizon, Qualcomm, and Denso to create the best facility possible.

It will help Ann Arbor reach its goals. Ann Arbor intends to fully launch V2V and V2I technology across the city by 2021, and such an ambitious target wouldn’t be be achievable without some help from established automakers. Google hasn’t even mentioned attempting that level of autonomous control yet. The city already received the support of the Department of Transportation to test connected cars on public streets, introducing 20,000 of them by 2019 and building connected car systems into 120 miles of Detroit highways.

Connected cars and self-driving vehicles are the future. By rigorously working out any bugs in V2V and V2I systems, the auto industry will usher forth technology that’s safer than anything we have today today. But in order to make that reality come true, engineers and programmers will need to log plenty of test miles–with some help from the brilliant minds at the University of Michigan.

Related: Testing self-driving cars

News Source: Car and Driver

Tim Shults likes to play golf and spend time with his four daughters.