Ford has proudly announced that it is the first carmaker to take to the streets of Mcity - the University Of Michigan’s US$10 million purpose-built testing facility for autonomous cars.
Mcity was opened in July, and Ford was a key partner in its establishment along with Bosch, Honda, Nissan, General Motors and others.
The facility is designed to replicate real-world driving conditions in as many ways as possible, including traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and bike lanes, right down to finer details including roadworks and even street signs covered in graffiti.
A Ford Fusion Hybrid (Ford Mondeo to Australian customers) was the chosen test vehicle, fitted with cameras, radars and four LiDAR sensors along with real-time 3D mapping technology to enable the Fusion to drive itself.
“Testing Ford’s autonomous vehicle fleet at Mcity provides another challenging, yet safe, urban environment to repeatedly check and hone these new technologies,” Ford’s Raj Nair said.
“This is an important step in making millions of people’s lives better and improving their mobility.”
Ford said Mcity allowed it to expand its autonomous testing program, while accelerating development at the same time.
The carmaker said the scale of Mcity is such that one mile covered at Mcity can represent ten miles of testing in the real world.
Ford is also using the opportunity to fine-tune some of its existing semi-autonomous technologies, including self-parking, autonomous emergency braking and radar-guided cruise control.
While the carmaker has been testing autonomous tech for over a decade, Ford is taking a cautious approach by keeping any future launch dates for a fully-autonomous car in the bag, for now.
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