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Mcity Uses Augmented Reality to Advance Self-Driving Technology

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The University of Michigan has a unique testing site for self-driving vehicles that uses virtual reality. Dubbed “Mcity,” the test facility is a fake city located on North Campus and spans over 16 acres.  It was created to give researchers the opportunity to see how autonomous vehicles (AVs) interact with computer-simulated ones. Thanks to augmented reality, Mcity researchers can test realistic driving scenarios in a simpler, cheaper way than in real life.

A unique environment for corner cases

Henry Liu, research professor at the University Transportation Research Institute, is the man responsible for developing this testing technology. Not only does Mcity provide a safer setting for testing AVs, but it’s also a more efficient way to test, as Liu articulates. “Most of the testing in the real world is not very useful […] The testing environment is repetitive and it is not challenging to autonomous vehicles. What is important is to find ‘corner cases’ that can challenge autonomous vehicles.”

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Consumer experience tests

Current tests at Mcity are focusing on the passengers of self-driving vehicles. Specifically, how humans engaged in non-driving tasks respond to an abrupt stop or other sudden changes in the vehicle. The goal is to improve the overall quality and smoothness of the ride for passengers. Augmented reality enables researchers to work out the kinks of the technology without risking the safety and discomfort of human test passengers.

We await more details on this unique testing facility as self-driving vehicles move closer toward improved technology and, eventually, toward mainstream use.

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News Source: The Michigan Daily