With the world barely grasping the idea of an autonomous vehicle, the University of Michigan is constructing a $10 million dollar, 32-acre driverless car city where companies can freely utilize and test their products. The city is named “M City”, fittingly, and the idea lends some interesting avenues to explore.
The clip above provides a brief synopsis of the overall goals and perks of M City along with helpful visuals.
The driverless car city would provide the ideal testing field in an urban setting, where things are constantly changing and the volume of vehicles and pedestrians is concentrated. How will autonomous vehicles react together in such a setting? That seems to be exactly what is on the agenda to learn and study prior to them becoming legal in regular cities with…you know, humans gripping the wheels.
M City is to be located on the grounds of the University of Michigan with funding from several automakers, including Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, Nissan and Honda. Interestingly, Google is not a part of this revolutionary project, perhaps feeling the burn of not thinking of it first. The cityscape will feature a typical spread of around 40 building structures to simulate a metropolis, complete with blind turns, tight squeezes, bridges and a traffic circle. They even tossed in some gravel to increase the challenges and ensure poor paint jobs.
The role of pedestrians in M City shall be played by robot dummies programmed to carelessly dart into traffic, perhaps to simulate standard city walkers transfixed with their nifty smartphones and other devices. Will driverless cars prove safer than traditional travel modes? What legal ramifications will unfold along with the technology? Overall, M City will pave the way to not only answer a variety of questions about autonomous vehicles and safety, but will indeed raise just as many new ones as situations unfold.
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