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University of Michigan To Test 3D-Printed Driverless ‘SmartCarts’

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The 3D-printed cars will be tested by university researchers.

The University of Michigan will begin testing 3D-printed driverless cars developed by Local Motors
Photo: Local Motors

According to its web site, Local Motors is “a technology company that designs, builds, and sells badass vehicles.”

Despite being potty-mouths, the technology company recently unveiled its first 3D-printed vehicle, while also agreeing to build three 3D-printed autonomous “SmartCarts” for the University of Michigan. The school will use these vehicles for testing in order to decide whether or not these cars can be used on campus for transportation. University researchers have already received a custom 3D-printed vehicle that is shown in the image above.

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“Think Uber, but with low-speed, autonomous cars,” said Associate Professor  Edwin Olson, who is in charge of the project. “”The goal of SmartCarts is for us to begin understanding the challenges of a transportation-on-demand system built around autonomous cars.”

Local Motors 3D-printed car

Local Motors first produced this road ready 3D-printed car before its agreement with the school
Photo: Dave Pinter

These driverless vehicles will first be tested at Mcity, which is a 32-acre simulated urban and suburban environment complete with roads, sidewalks, traffic signs, construction obstacles, and streetlights. If these sessions go well, testing will be moved to North Campus.

The vehicles are made from reinforced Lego brick plastic shaped by 3D printers to specifications programmed by Local Motors. The powertrain of the “SmartCart” was derived from a simple golf cart. One advantage of partnering with Local Motors is if the University determines the vehicles need an additional part, the technology company can have it made within hours via its 3D printers.

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Besides developing the vehicle’s driverless abilities, researchers from the university will also be designing a mobile phone interface that students could eventually use to request a ride.

Funding for this project will come from the university’s Mobility Transformation Center for one year. Olson will also contribute along with Ryan Eustice, who is an associate professor of naval architecture and marine engineering.

Via: Michigan News