Google has been operating its self-driving cars on public streets for years, but some feel as though these tests aren’t moving fast enough. Furthermore, they feel that these tests aren’t difficult enough to usher in this new era of technology. With that in mind, the University of Michigan has designed and built a 32 acre test track exclusively for autonomous vehicles to be tested in the most rigorous fashion possible. The track will allow experts to pit self-driving vehicles against nearly every possible scenario, to further study the technology, and improve the cars wherever necessary before they become available for consumer use.
Self-driving cars have been almost accident-free, so why build this track?
The google self-driving car has driven over a million miles with only handful of small incidents, none of which were the fault of the self-driving car. So it would seem that this technology is pretty perfect, but of course, there is always room for improvement when human lives can potentially be at stake. This is why the University of Michigan has built an extensive track in order to advance the capabilities and research of the self-driving car program.
According to Peter Sweatman, director of the U-M Mobility Transformation Center, “There are many challenges ahead as automated vehicles are increasingly deployed on real roadways. Mcity is a safe, controlled, and realistic environment where we are going to figure out how the incredible potential of connected and automated vehicles can be realized quickly, efficiently and safely.” Researchers will be able to observe interactions on this track that would be difficult, or unsafe to create in the real world as many times as they wish in a controlled environment.
Advanced driving strategies in modern world
With CO2 emissions at record highs, and the planet heating up at a record pace, the need for self-driving cars is quite urgent. With the demand for autonomous cars, companies like Nissan, Ford, Delphi, Toyota, Verizon, State Farm, and General Motors have all invested largely into research like the research being done at the University of Michigan.
Work done on this track will pave the way for the eventual consumer release of self-driving cars, and much of the credit will be given to the hard work of teams like those at the University of Michigan.
Autonomous vehicles of the future
Truly the future is already here, and more self-driving cars are added to public roads every day. According to Jim Sayer, the director for deployment for Mobile Transformation Center, “This unique combination of a purpose-built test environment and real-world deployments sets U-M apart from other organizations and institutions doing similar work.”
What the University of Michigan has done for self-driving car technology will change the way that the vehicles operate, all while ensuring they are in the average person’s driveway sooner than previously expected.