After the death of a pedestrian by a self-driving Uber, in Arizona last month, a huge debate started on the safety of autonomous cars. The American Center for Mobility (ACM) aims to nullify some of those fears by working to ensure the safety of self-driving vehicles. The center had its opening last Wednesday in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan. Many important people from academia, automotive and tech industry gathered on the event to talk to media and stakeholders about the new site’s mission.
Debbie Dingell, U.S. Representative, said, “I’m surprised by the public resistance to autonomous vehicles. … What happened with Uber in Arizona makes it harder. This is why we need this site.” The ACM President and CEO John Maddox said, “What happened in Tempe is a clear indication the technology needs to continue being developed. Having this facility and others like it is very, very critical (to the success of autonomous vehicles).”
Many people present at the event were even more enthusiastic. The U.S. Senator Gary Peters said, “Today marks an exciting new chapter in the development of connected and self-driving vehicles right here in Michigan, and I’m thrilled that this world-class facility is now open to help shape the next frontier of mobility.” The center is a non-profit initiative which is focusing on testing and product development. The facility aims to achieve progress in automotive safety and future of mobility. It also has plans to introduce voluntary standards for the industry.
ACM is the world’s first highway test facility for self-driving cars. It has a landscape which provides many real-world scenarios and environments. The facility has been established on a 500-acre site and features a 2.5-mile highway loop and a 700-ft curved tunnel. There are many overpasses, intersections, and roundabouts as well. ACM’s partnership with Microsoft was also announced on the opening ceremony. Microsoft will provide the center with cloud resources and data infrastructure. Maddox appreciated the new collaboration and said, “By adding Big-Data to our diverse and growing group of stakeholders and world-class partners, ACM is staking its claim as the preeminent global hub for mobility companies to develop and test their connected technologies and vehicles in a safe and controlled environment.”
ACM has support from a number of companies like AT&T, Visteon Corporation, Toyota, Ford, and Hyundai America Technical Center Inc. The Center is built as a collaboration of several local bodies including the state of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the University of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan, Ann Arbor SPARK and Ypsilanti Township.