• University of Michigan's MCity

University of Michigan's MCity (Photo : YouTube)

Ford Motor Company will be the first automaker to conduct full-scale tests of its self-driving cars at the 32-acre "Mcity" fake town constructed by the University of Michigan (UM). Its safe location is far from public traffic and pedestrians, and Silicon Valley rivals including Google. The automaker plans to test its Fusion Hybrid connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV)  with 3D-mapping IDAR sensors, which has already been tested on public roads.

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MCity is a $10 million facility that opened in July. It is a partnership between UM's Mobility Transformation Center and many automakers, according to MLive.

Experts project the CAV tech tested at Mcity could reduce highway driving deaths by 80 percent. It allows vehicles to "talk" with each other by sharing data.

UM professor Ryan Eustice explained that Mcity provides benefits over standard on-road testing. Every mile is equal to up to 1,000 miles of public road testing, due to the ability to include many driving scenarios in one area.

For example, Mcity's simulated environment allows researchers to test dangerous situations that cannot be tested on public roads. One example is running red lights.

The fake city also includes many other types of equipment. They include several types of pavement surfaces, a profusion of road signs, one construction barrier, and high-mounted cameras, according to Engadget.

Ford's goal is to test its driver assist features. The automaker's vehicles already have automatic features such as self-parking, but lack "autopilot" software like Tesla's electric vehicles.  

The Ford Motor Company was founded by Henry Ford in 1903. It introduced large-scale auto manufacturing through moving assembly lines.

Here is a first look at Mcity: