Proving up to the challenge

Otie McKinley

Friday, January 20, 2017

U.S. Department of Transportation designation elevates Michigan as leader as testing site for autonomous vehicles

American Center for Mobility (ACM) at Willow Run has received designation as one of the nation’s first proving grounds for the testing, demonstration and deployment of connected autonomous vehicle (CAV) technologies, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced today. ACM was one of 10 selected facilities among more than 60 applicants.

The federal designation establishes a standard intended to foster a safe environment for proving grounds around the country to share best practices related to testing and development of automated-related technologies.

“The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is proud to partner with the ACM as they receive designation from the United States Department of Transportation,” said Steve Arwood, CEO of the MEDC. “This further amplifies Michigan’s continued commitment to being the leader in the automotive industry and the evolution of transportation.”

The establishment of ACM represents a turning point for the automotive industry and autonomous technology, which will continue to play a key role in revolutionizing the global transportation landscape, said Arwood. With this designation, the USDOT clearly recognizes the role that ACM and the state of Michigan are playing in automotive innovation, he said.

For connected and automated vehicles to be successful, it essential to maintain uninterrupted communications with other vehicles, infrastructure, pedestrians, bicyclists, trains, and many other objects and scenarios. For that reason, ACM is not just open roads, but also a proving ground packed with smart infrastructure.

Located on 530-plus acres, ACM will offer a range of driving environments and situations that represent today’s road conditions, hazards, and challenge. The tests can be conducted under varied, yet controlled conditions. 

Some features of the proving grounds include a 2.5-mile highway loop, a 700-foot curved tunnel, two double overpasses, intersections, and roundabouts. Additionally, the center’s location supports experimentation in varying weather conditions due to Michigan’s dynamic climate.

The ACM is a joint initiative with the State of Michigan founded in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the University of Michigan,Business Leaders for Michigan and Ann Arbor SPARK.

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