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University of Michigan Opens Miniature City For Driverless Vehicle Testing

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M City opened on July 21, 2015.

M City was designed to accelerate the growth of autonomous technology
Photo: UM News Service via YouTube

The University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center estimates that driverless vehicles could save tens of thousands of lives, as well as prevent more than a million injuries suffered each year in car collisions, and that’s just in the US.

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The Mobility Transformation Center opened M City today, July 21st, which is a 32-acre facility designed to test driverless vehicles in a setting that simulates real life scenarios and obstacles such as angled intersections, traffic jams, gravel roads, obstructed views, unpredictable pedestrians, a traffic circle, bridge, tunnel, and 40 building facades.

The miniature city cost $10 million to create, which was made possible by corporate sponsors like the Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, Honda Motor Company, Nisan Motor Corporation, and the Toyota Motor Corporation.

M City opened on July 21, 2015.

Traffic collisions could be reduced by driverless technology that allows them to read where other cars are located
Photo: UM News Service via YouTube

Before the opening of M City, previous testing of driverless vehicles has taken place mostly on private tracks and public roads in California. Google has recorded more than 1 million miles of testing in its driverless cars and has reached out to M City to inquire about testing its vehicles there, but Google would be required to become a sponsor first and that would cost a minimum of $150,000 over three years.

Peter Sweatman, head of the Transportation Research Institute, said testing will be more beneficial at their artificial city than on public roads because they can reprogram the same obstacle numerous times to determine how the driverless vehicle will react to it, while testing on public roads would normally give a vehicle only one shot to see how it deals with a given obstacle.

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Researchers at M City will be testing factors such as the engineering and design of driverless vehicles, public safety, computer science, and urban planning.

Automakers estimate that driverless vehicles could become a normal thing within the next five years and that it would quickly become a $42 billion industry. It was also been estimated by automakers that driverless vehicles could prevent 80 percent of the car crashes in the US, which would save more than 30,000 lives a year.

Here’s the full video on M City released by the University of Michigan’s News Service:

News Source: Insurance Journal