Self-Driving Cars to be tested in a Fake City

Researchers at the University of Michigan have created a miniature city called MCity to test self-driving cars. The city which is set in 32 acres of grounds will also feature a mechanised pedestrian named Sebastian. The MCity which has been built on the Ann Arbor campus of the University will have all the features of a real city including building facades, mail boxes, rubbish bins, and of course Sebastian. The MCity will also soon have mechanised cyclists as well, so that self-driving cars can practise for real life events on the road.

An aerial view of MCity

The reason the fake city has been built is so that self-driving cars can be tested on roads without any interference. Any accidents or situations it encounters such as cyclists can be tested over and over again in the fake city, something that would be impossible without disrupting drivers on public roads. The MCity will include urban roads as well as a short motorway which can accommodate speeds of up to 40mph, a round-about, tunnels, and a simulated 70-foot underpass with two railway crossings.

The cost of the MCity is already reached $10 million with the research being carried out by the Mobility Transformation Centre partnered with the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Car companies signed up as partners of the new city include giants such as Ford, Honda, Toyota and Nissan, Google have not signed up to test their cars. The University officially opened the MCity for testing on Monday 20th July.

Speaking of the new testing site for self-driving cars Peter Sweatman, Director of the U-M Mobility Transformation Centre said: " 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."

You can take a look around MCity by watching the video below.

By Jenna Niblock