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Automation trials in ‘ghost city’

Jan 24, 2016
Mcity is a very particular city where no people live. In fact, it is a 32-acre full-scale simulated real-world urban environment developed by the University of Michigan.

Ford’s vehicles will be the first ones hitting its roads in order to carry out automation trials. 

“Testing Ford’s autonomous vehicle fleet at Mcity provides another challenging, yet safe, urban environment to repeatedly check and hone these new technologies,” said Raj Nair, Ford Group Vice President, Global Product Development. “This is an important step in making millions of people’s lives better and improving their mobility.” 

Ford has been testing autonomous vehicles for more than 10 years and is now expanding testing on the diversity of roads and realistic neighbourhoods of Mcity near the North Campus Research Complex to accelerate research of advanced sensing technologies. 

Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle merges today’s driver-assist technologies, such as front-facing cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors, and adds four LiDAR sensors to generate a real-time 3D map of the vehicle’s surrounding environment – essential for dynamic performance. 

Real-world testing in a whole new way 

Mcity opened in July 2015. The full-scale urban environment provides real-world road scenarios – such as running a red light – that can’t be replicated on public roads. There are street lights, pedestrian crossings, lane delineators, curb cuts, bike lanes, trees, hydrants, pavements, signs, traffic control devices and even construction barriers. Here, Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle is tested over a range of surfaces – concrete, asphalt, simulated brick and dirt – and manoeuvers two-, three- and four-lane roads, as well as ramps, roundabouts and tunnels. 

“The goal of Mcity is that we get a scaling factor. Every mile driven there can represent 10, 100 or 1,000 miles of on-road driving in terms of our ability to pack in the occurrences of difficult events,” said Ryan Eustice, University of Michigan Associate Professor and co-investigator in Ford’s research collaboration with the university, one of two faculties working on this project with Ford. 

Along with testing at Mcity and on public roads, Ford’s autonomous fleet has been put through the paces at the company’s vehicle development facilities in Dearborn and Romeo, Michigan. 

Courtesy of ERTICO - ITS Europe 

Photo:  The Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle being tested at Mcity.



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