AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES: University of Michigan breaks ground, announces industry partners for autonomous-vehicle test track

Researchers hope to have fully functioning autonomous/connected-vehicle network in Ann Arbor by 2021

May 07, 2014

The University of Michigan hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for its new $6.5 million Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) on Tuesday while also announcing its first batch of funding partners from across the auto industry.

According to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Xerox, Bosch and Econolite have all agreed to become part of the MTC’s Leadership Circle. Each partner has agreed to contribute $1 million over three years to help get MTC programs up and running. Construction of the facility will be jointly funded by the university and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

The 32-acre MTC will host a 5-mile test track designed to replicate everyday city streets to put autonomous and connected vehicles through their paces. Planned elements of the track include signalized intersections, roundabouts, building facades, simulated cyclists and pedestrians, streetlights and parked cars and buses.

As UMTRI uses the MTC to continue to advance autonomous-vehicle and connected-vehicle technology, the organization’s stated goal is to be able to demonstrate a fully functioning network in Ann Arbor, Mich., by 2021.

Construction of the MTC is slated to begin in June, with an eye toward a Sept. 12, 2014, grand opening—the day after the 21st ITS World Congress in Detroit.