It's nice to see Detroit getting busy again.
Engineers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor have started construction on a simulated city center that will be used to test partially automated and fully driverless cars.
The patent-pending Mobility Transformation Facility will take up 32 acres on U-M's north campus, and be administered by a partnership of auto industry leaders and university researchers.
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The idea is to provide a real-world simulation of dense city traffic for the next generation of partially and fully automated vehicles. In addition to a section of a four-lane highway, the test center will have merge lanes, road signs, stoplights, intersections, construction barrels, roundabouts, a railroad crossing, building facades and even - eventually - mechanical cyclists and pedestrians.
"We will actually be writing code for the test facility," said U-M researcher Edwin Olson, on the Michigan Engineering project page. "We'll be able to trigger tricky traffic signal timings, or a pedestrian stepping into the intersection at just the wrong time, for example."