A major advantage of Mcity is that is a northern climate where there can be snow and ice which can affect autonomous driving. Mcity was designed and developed by U-M’s interdisciplinary MTC, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).
Mcity has an urban and suburban environment for repeatable testing of new technologies before they are tried out on public streets and highways. There are two tracks to the center. A high-speed track simulates a four-lane highway with mobility circles at the ends. The urban track is more like a city with stops signs, stoplights, simulated pedestrian, bicyclists and building facades.
Mcity allows researchers to simulate the environments where connected and automated vehicles will be most challenged 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 goal is to put a shared network of connected, automated (including driverless) vehicles on the road in Ann Arbor by 2021.
MTC currently has three on-roadway connected and automated vehicle deployments underway. MTC is partnering with industry and the Michigan Department of Transportation to put 20,000 connected vehicles on the road in Southeast Michigan. The third piece of the plan calls for deploying a 2,000-vehicle mobility service of connected and automated vehicles in Ann Arbor.
MTC partners include automakers and top tier auto suppliers, but also traffic signal and traffic sensing companies, insurance providers, telecommunications, big data, IT and more. On the public side, MTC is working with federal, state, and city governments.
MTC was launched in 2013 and Mcity construction began last year. 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.
MTC is working closely with 15 Leadership Circle member companies, each investing $1 million over three years, and engaging in thought leadership. Thirty-three Affiliate Members are also contributing, and investing $150,000 over three years. Current Leadership Circle companies are:
Delphi Automotive PLC
Econolite Group, Inc.
Ford Motor Co.
General Motors Co.
Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
Robert Bosch LLC
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
Toyota Motor Corp.
Verizon Communications, Inc.