A Ghost Town for Autonomous Vehicles

By Sara Brown

The University of Michigan has opened a pretend town to facilitate testing of autonomous driving technologies, complete with a variety of road surfaces, mechanized pedestrians and movable buildings and obstacles.

The $10 million project is funded by a variety of Auto makers and Tier One suppliers as well as the State of Michigan. Priority access to the test grounds will be given to partners with $1 million worth of skin in the game.

A principal goal of the University’s Mobility Transformation Center, is to unleash driverless cars on the real streets of Ann Arbor by 2021.

I can remember meeting a gentleman at a tradeshow in Detroit back in 2007 who spoke about cars that can’t crash—that communicate with each other and their environment to create safer roadways. Honestly, I thought he was nuts. Seems, he wasn’t crazy at all, just ahead of his time. For his sake, I hope he hasn’t retired to Florida yet, so he can see the testing—and sooner than either of us thought, perhaps even the realization of his once-far-fetched dream.