Ford Begins Testing Self-Driving Cars At “Fake” Mcity

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Mcity is a 32-acre faux village located on the campus of the University of Michigan, built in order to test autonomous cars with Ford first to use the facility.

Ford knows it’s a matter of when not if for self-driving cars

Ford’s Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle is making the rounds at Mcity, the simulated urban environment created by the University of Michigan as part of the university’s Mobility Transformation Center. The city, which opened in July, offers automakers the opportunity to test their vehicles on a variety of surfaces and in a number of different neighborhoods. Additionally, pedestrian crossings, traffic lights, bicycle lanes, and other features allow testers to put their cars through multiple situations and environments in the same run.

Ford’s Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle will be equipped with numerous camera as well as radar and lider sensors as well as real-time 3D mapping technology. All will be needed to help the vehicle make decisions on dirt, asphalt, wet roads as it works its way through “town” navigating roundabouts, tunnels and other features.

“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 for global product development. “This is an important step in making millions of people’s lives better and improving their mobility.”

Mcity, Ford and the future through “scalability”

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 principal investigator in Ford’s research collaboration with the university.

“We are pleased to welcome Ford as the first automaker to use Mcity to test autonomous vehicles,” said Peter Sweatman, director of the Mobility Transformation Center.

“Mcity offers a unique, real-world test environment that will help Ford accelerate development of its autonomous technology while building on its existing research collaboration with University of Michigan.”

Ford expects Mcity to advance its decade(s) long work in self-driving cars as it enters its advanced engineering test phase.

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