Ford is the first automaker to test autonomous vehicles at Mcity – a simulated real-world urban environment at the University of Michigan, USA. The 32-acre facility is part of the university’s Mobility Transformation Center.
Mcity provides real-world road scenarios – such as running a red light – that cannot be replicated on public roads. There are street lights, pedestrian crossings, lane markings, bike lanes, trees, pavements, signs, traffic lights – even construction barriers.
“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 globally – including research with the Ford Mondeo by the UK Autodrive Consortium at MIRA test facility in Nuneaton, UK – and with its Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle with the University of Michigan since 2013 to advance sensing systems for next-generation Fords.
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 ramps, roundabouts and tunnels. The Ford test vehicles merge today’s driver-assist technologies with LiDAR sensors – technology that measures distance using lasers and analyses any reflected light – to generate a real-time 3D map of the surrounding environment.
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 to address the world’s biggest transportation challenges.