The Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) team at the University of Michigan intends to lead a revolution in mobility by developing the foundations for a commercially viable ecosystem of connected and automated vehicles with the Mcity test facility. With the support of Mcity, their central goal is the development and implementation of an intelligent car system in Ann Arbor (Michigan – USA) by 2021.
Benefits of connected and automated cars
The intelligent cars partly or fully remove the human from the complex sensing, monitoring, and control processes while driving in the car. A journey with reduced stress, enjoyable on-demand services and better use of travel time shall be possible. 93 percent of US fatal crashes are the result of driver errors. The reduction of car crashes, energy consumption, carbon dioxide emissions, travel time, and use of infrastructure capacity are main objectives of Mcity. More efficient transport systems with easy transportation accessibilities are especially needed in metropolises with a growing population.
For this purpose Mcity, the world’s first urban test environment for connected and automated vehicles, has been officially inaugurated on 20 July 2015 with representatives of the government, the industry and the University of Michigan. The three months old test facility was designed and developed by U-M’s interdisciplinary MTC, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).
The aim is to support rigorous, repeatable testing of new technologies in a safe, controlled and realistic environment before they are tried out on public streets and highways. Connected technologies mainly means that vehicles talk to the infrastructure or other vehicles to manage, for example, the flow of traffic across an entire region. Also the timing of lights for optimal traffic flow is possible. Various levels of automation, also fully autonomous or driverless cars, will be investigated.
Mcity Facility – Occupying 32 acres at the University’s North Campus
The 32-acre simulated urban and suburban environment includes a network of roads with traffic signs, intersections, building covers, signals, streetlights, sidewalks and construction obstacles. Different road surfaces like asphalt, concrete, brick, dirt or grassy area and a variety of curves and ramps as well as roundabouts, tunnels and hydrants are concentrated on this quite small territory. Mcity is a closed facility due to safety and confidentiality concerns.
“We believe that this transformation to connected and automated mobility will be a game changer for safety, for efficiency, for energy, and for accessibility,” said Peter Sweatman, director of the U-M Mobility Transformation Center. “Our cities will be much better to live in, our suburbs will be much better to live in. These technologies truly open the door to 21st century mobility.” The $10 million project broke ground in 2014.
In the end, this new kind of transportation needs to be highly attractive to users throughout society. It also needs to be commercially successful, creating new business partnerships and opportunities. The project is supported by industry, including some of the world’s top automakers, government and science.