Ford first automaker to test driverless car at Mcity

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. is the first automaker to test a fully autonomous vehicle at Mcity, an Ann Arbor automotive proving ground intended to help Michigan lead in driverless-car technology.

The Dearborn automaker has been testing autonomous vehicles for more than 10 years and is now expanding testing on an autonomous Fusion on the diversity of roads and realistic neighborhoods of the 31-acre Mcity near the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex to accelerate research of advanced sensing technologies.

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

Ford revealed its autonomous Fusion in 2013. The company is currently in the “advanced engineering” phase of its autonomous car production, meaning it’s working to make sensing and computing technologies feasible for production while continuing to test and refine algorithms.

The Mcity site includes street lights, crosswalks, lane delineators, curb cuts, bike lanes, trees, hydrants, sidewalks, signs, traffic control devices and other real-world factors. The Fusion is tested over a range of surfaces and maneuvers along roads of varying sizes, as well as ramps, 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,” Ryan Eustice, University of Michigan associate professor and principal investigator in Ford’s research collaboration with the university, said in a statement.

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