Autonomous vehicle testing to take place at Mcity compound

| Transport

Ford hybrid autonomous fusion vehicle under test

The University of Michigan’s MCity proving ground will be used by Ford for the testing of autonomous vehicle technology.

Ford is the first car manufacturer to test autonomous vehicles at Mcity – the full-scale simulated real-world urban environment at the University of Michigan. The 32-acre facility is part of the university’s Mobility Transformation Centre.

“Testing Ford’s autonomous vehicle fleet at Mcity provides another challenging, yet safe, urban environment to repeatedly check and hone these new technologies,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “This is an important step in making millions of people’s lives better and improving their mobility.”

Ford has been testing autonomous vehicles for more than 10 years and is now expanding testing on the diversity of roads and realistic neighbourhoods of Mcity near the North Campus Research Complex to accelerate research of advanced sensing technologies.

Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle merges today’s driver-assist technologies, such as front-facing cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors, and adds four LiDAR sensors to generate a real-time 3D map of the vehicle’s surrounding environment – essential for dynamic performance.

Real-world testing in a whole new way

Mcity opened in July. The full-scale urban environment provides real-world road scenarios – such as running a red light – that can’t be replicated on public roads.

There are street lights, pedestrian crossings, lane delineators, curb cuts, bike lanes, trees, hydrants, pavements, signs, traffic control devices – even construction barriers. Here, the Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle is tested over a range of surfaces – concrete, asphalt, simulated brick and dirt – and manoeuvres two-, three- and four-lane roads, as well as slip roads, roundabouts 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 principal investigator in Ford’s research collaboration with the university.

Ford’s track record of technology leadership

Ford revealed its Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle with the University of Michigan and State Farm Insurance in 2013 in an effort to advance sensing systems so this technology could be integrated into Ford’s next-generation vehicles. Earlier this year, Ford announced it moved its research efforts in autonomous vehicle technology to the next step in development, to the advanced engineering phase. The team is working to make sensing and computing technology feasible for production while continuing to test and refine algorithms.

Ford offers a full portfolio of semi-autonomous technology and the most available driver-assist features in four vehicle segments in the United States – large light-duty pickups with the F-150, midsize SUVs with the Edge and Explorer, midsize cars with the Fusion and large cars with the Taurus.

Along with testing at Mcity and on public roads, Ford’s autonomous fleet has been put through their paces at the company’s vehicle development facilities in Dearborn and Romeo, Michigan.

“We are pleased to welcome Ford as the first automotive manufacturer to use Mcity to test autonomous vehicles,” said Peter Sweatman, director, Mobility Transformation Centre. “Mcity offers a unique, real-world test environment that will help Ford accelerate development of its autonomous technology while building on its existing research collaboration with the University of Michigan.”

Ford Smart Mobility

Autonomous vehicles are one element of Ford Smart Mobility, Ford’s plan to deliver the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data.

With Ford Smart Mobility, the company is changing the way the world moves to make people’s lives better – using innovation and advanced technology across its business to address the world’s biggest transport challenges. This is what Henry Ford did 112 years ago.

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