U-M opens Mcity test environment
In July 2015, the University of Michigan opened Mcity, the world’s first controlled environment specifically designed to test the potential of connected and automated vehicle technologies that will lead the way to mass-market driverless cars. It was designed and developed by U-M’s interdisciplinary Mobility Transformation Center (MTC), in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).
Mcity is a 32-acre simulated urban and suburban environment that includes a network of roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, streetlights, building facades, sidewalks and construction obstacles. It is designed to support rigorous, repeatable testing of new technologies before they are tried on public streets and highways. In particular, Mcity allows researchers to simulate the environments where connected and automated vehicles will be most challenged. Even seemingly minor details a vehicle might encounter in urban and suburban settings have been incorporated into Mcity, such as road signs defaced by graffiti and faded lane markings.
The types of technologies that will be tested at the facility include connected technologies—vehicles talking to other vehicles or to the infrastructure, commonly known as V2V or V2I—and various levels of automation all the way up to fully autonomous, or driverless vehicles.
MTC was launched in 2013 and Mcity construction began in 2014. About $10 million has been invested in the test facility with funding coming from U-M and MDOT. Mcity will be available for use by any organization, but priority will be given to MTC partners and U-M faculty and students.
Recently, the U-M Center for Entrepreneurship in partnership with MTC launched the pilot of TechLab at Mcity, a new opportunity for collaboration among university researchers, advanced transportation startups and student innovators. TechLab is designed to create unique educational opportunities and accelerate the success of participating companies. The program leverages nationally recognized U-M engineering talent and the cutting-edge facilities to drive connected and driverless innovation closer to market.
“MTC and Mcity highlight the interdisciplinary strengths of U-M,” said U-M President Mark Schlissel. “The initiative also demonstrates the great potential in working with partners outside the university to address compelling issues of broad impact.”
The facility also underscores Michigan’s emergence as a leader in advanced mobility, building on the state’s position as the global center of automotive research and development for more than a century. Today, Michigan is home to 375 automotive research centers, and has the highest concentration of industrial and mechanical engineers in the country.