US senator says “better” to test self-driving cars on private track

21 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Motor City Backs U. of Michigan Test Course for Self-Driving Cars.

A cyclist crosses in front of a vehicle as part of a demonstration at Mcity on its opening day Monday, July 20, 2015 on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Mich. (Photo: Paul Sancya/Associated Press) ANN ARBOR, Michigan (AP) — Automakers and researchers say a new simulated city at the University of Michigan could help speed the development of driverless and connected cars. Located at 2909 Baxter Road on North Campus, MCity features roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, streetlights, a railroad crossing, moveable building facades, sidewalks, construction obstacles and even fake pedestrians.

The $10 million testing ground will be run by the Mobility Transformation Center, a partnership between the university, state and federal governments and auto and technology companies. General Motors (GM), Ford Motor Co. (F), Toyota (TM), Honda (HMC) and Nissan partnered with U-M, alongside chip maker Qualcomm (QCOM) and telecom giant Verizon Communications (VZ). With many in the industry expecting completely autonomous cars to hit the road within the decade, Mcity will play a key role in studying how these cars will be able to sense and react in time to potential pedestrian accidents. The voice of reason in this field, MTC, says (automated vehicles) need to be tested, connected and valued—that’s our mission,” he said. “Our goal is to energize all communities as well as economies around the promise of connected and automated vehicles.

The facility will also develop ways for cars to identify nearby self-driving vehicles and traffic signals, and run them under various weather conditions, particularly the heavy snowfall common to Michigan winters, Bloomberg reported. Others like Tesla Motors (TSLA) and GM’s Cadillac are close to introducing technology that automates highway driving. “For consumers, automakers created lane sensors, then cars that park for you.

It has also been testing its autonomous vehicles on public roads, though last month in Palo Alto one of its cars almost collided with a self-driving vehicle operated by another automaker. Steudle said MCity it really the ultimate celebration of the many partnerships between public and private entities, and that the technology developed here will help make Michigan roads safer for everyone. “We’re going to have lots and lots of hours testing the new mobility for America.

Automakers, high-tech companies and university researchers will test car-to-car communication systems, which could one day predict accidents and stop cars before a mishap. At the end of the day there are still 33,000 American motorists that lost their lives last year on highways,” he said. “The future of automated and connected vehicles holds the promise to drive those numbers down significantly. Meanwhile, Michigan is home to 375 automotive research centers, U-M noted, and the university’s test facility is a clear sign that top automakers are looking to accelerate their research. This is the facility that helps us get there.” Researchers and developers said that automobile deaths that occur on highways will be reduced by about 80 percent once this technology becomes implemented full scale.

The connected vehicles anonymously and securely exchange data — including location, speed and direction — with other vehicles and the surrounding infrastructure via wireless communication devices. Eustice says the site allows researchers to be “maximally evil” toward the car, putting it into all sorts of situations that can be quickly and easily repeated, like a model of a pedestrian obscured by a bus that walks out into traffic. Caldwell said automakers know better than anyone that different topography leads to different results, and the data collected from tests at Mcity and elsewhere will help improve software that powers self-driving vehicles. This data can warn individual drivers of traffic tie-ups or emerging dangerous situations, such as a car slipping on ice around an upcoming curve, or a car that might be likely to run a red light ahead.

Every kilometer of testing at the site is worth hundreds of kilometers of real-world driving, he said, since it can take hours of real driving to come upon a scenario that’s difficult for the car to handle. Automated vehicles will be equipped with new systems of situation awareness and control that increasingly replace elements of human response and behavior, officials said. These vehicles — some of which are prototypes that were on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit — respond automatically to traffic situations by activating certain driving functions, such as acceleration, braking or steering.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is pursuing a proposal that would require manufacturers to install V2V technology in all new vehicles. Sweatman said the site will also leave a lot of snow on the ground in the winter, so that automakers can make sure that the cameras and radar used in driverless systems will still work in the snow. © 2015 The Associated Press. In terms of autonomous vehicles, at lower speeds and controlled environments, we should start to see autonomous vehicles in the next four to five years. I think to get (an autonomous) car or truck that replaces the vehicle you currently drive, that’s a 15 to 20 year timeline, but that’s absolutely what we’re aiming for.” Shauna Ryder Diggs, the chairwoman of U-M’s Board of Regents, said the day was more than just about the opening of the site, but instead the more long-term influences that it could have on society. “Work conducted here will lay the foundations for a safer, cleaner, more fuel-efficient transportation system that is accessible to all.

This work has broad implications, not only for how we get to work or get to the grocery store, but for a better quality of life, and for the health and vitality of our economy,” she said. Researchers did not do full-scale displays of the autonomous vehicles, but they did allow some media members and supporters to demo a connected vehicle, which brought a speeding car to a stop when a bicyclist and jogger entered traffic. Sweatman said none of this would be possible if it weren’t for the support U-M has received at so many different levels—from government to businesses and including citizens of Ann Arbor. When you look at the passionate and articulate folks we have here … and all of the support we have at the legal level, at the top of the university, that’s why we’ve been able to achieve what we’ve achieved.” Jeremy Allen is the higher education reporter for The Ann Arbor News.

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