Ford has become the first automaker to test autonomous vehicles at University of Michigan’s Mcity, a 32-acre facility that is part of the university’s Mobility Transformation Center and is a full scale simulation of real world urban environment.
Ford says that it has been testing autonomous technology for more than a decade and is now expanding that to Mcity in order to accelerate the development of its sensing technologies. The vehicle used for the tests is a Ford Fusion Hybrid that has been equipped with front-facing cameras, radars and ultrasonic sensors as well as four LiDAR sensors that generate a real-time 3D map of the surrounding environment.
Mcity opened in July and provides testing conditions with a variety of scenarios that aren’t possible on real roads such as running a red light. The urban environment is complete with street lights, crosswalks, lane delineators, curb cuts, bike lanes, trees, hydrants, sidewalks, signs, traffic control devices and construction barriers. There are also various road surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, simulated brick and dirt. Complex driving conditions are created with two-, three- and four-lane roads and also roundabouts, ramps 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.