Ann Arbor Michigan to Become Home to America’s First Driverless Vehicle Fleet

By: | March 18th, 2015

Driverless Vehicle Facility

Driverless Vehicle Facility (Image Courtesy

For some reason, the driverless vehicle reminds us of the headless horseman from Celtic, German and American folklore. Apparently when humans first began riding horses, grisly beheadings were common. One hopes driverless vehicles will fare better. But the headless horseman, arguably, was able to see better than normal people, swinging his head any which way he pleased. It is therein that engineers believe driverless vehicles will do better than people – 360° vision and stopping on a dime – and freeing up people to do what they do best – sleep, read, and converse.

New Test Facility May Lead to First Driverless American City

General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Toyota have teamed up with the University of Michigan to create a new 32 acre facility called M-City for testing driverless and automated vehicle systems and other up-and-coming smart city technologies.

If driverless vehicles are ever to become commercially viable, they must be at least as safe and reliable as today’s vehicles. The new facility will start operations this spring and Ann Arbor, Michigan is expected to be home to the first American fleet of networked driverless vehicles by 2021.

According the the Univerisity of Michigan, “the facility is designed as a network of roads with up to five lanes, intersections, roundabouts, roadway markings, traffic signs and signals, sidewalks, bus facilities, benches, parked cars, pedestrians and obstacles like construction barriers and more.”

Auto industry experts note that driverless vehicles use sensors to assess and automatically respond to traffic situations using preset driving functions including acceleration, braking, steering and more.

One wonders how driverless vehicles would handle situations they haven’t seen before such as a 150 car pileup caused by a firework truck explosion on a busy interstate during rush hour.

The following video shows the design of the new facility.

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David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

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