Willow Run robotic-car test site begins next phase
John Maddox, ACM (American Center Mobility), president and CEO, talks about the new center.
Ypsilanti —The American Center for Mobility just opened, and officials are already building more here at the historic Willow Run site.
Gov. Rick Snyder joined the center’s President and CEO John Maddox and other state and local politicians Wednesday to officially open the first phase of the facility. By summer, the 500-acre driverless-car proving ground will have an urban intersection added to the 2.5-mile highway loop, 700-foot curved tunnel, roundabouts and double overpasses on which to test autonomous technology.
By December, there will be a series of building facades set up to replicate a city. All of that is an effort to keep Michigan a leader in the automotive world. Autonomous vehicles will be a part of the industry’s future, experts have said. That means Michigan has to have a place to fully develop them.
“We’re at a point now where there is a new world coming,” said Snyder. “This is a place to be on the forefront of improving lives.”
Maddox announced Wednesday that Microsoft will partner with the center to design a cloud-based data and analytics platform to collect, store and analyze the data collected from tests at the center.
He has said the American Center for Mobility will be constantly expanded. New features will open in “stages” through December 2019. To date, roughly $110 million has been secured for the first two phases of construction.
Subaru of America recently joined a growing list of contributors to the site. The Japanese carmaker will invest $2 million in the site. AT&T, Visteon Corp., Toyota Motor North America, Ford Motor Co. and Hyundai America Technical Center Inc. are founder-level investors in the center.