Visit to the school for self-driving cars

In the American federal state of Michigan a development centre for self-driving cars was created through the backdrop city Mcity.


Dummies are also used in Mcity, the American development centre for self-driving cars. (Photo: ZF)

In Mcity three renowned universities are simultaneously developing solutions with which self-driving cars will be made ready for road traffic. Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University have set up a development centre and a special test site for this purpose.

Since automated vehicles may only be tested on public highways in four American federal states, the researchers’ development centre was established in Ann Arbor close to Detroit, Michigan. Covering an area of 13 hectares, the site cost an impressive $10 million. Cars have been driving there since summer 2015.

A self-driving car must fulfil five criteria on the test site. Safety and driving comfort in the automated vehicles are first optimised. A driver is still required in this initial test phase. In stages three, four and five sensors, control units and the vehicle are connected in such a way that the driver no longer has to steer the vehicle. The self-driving car must then prove its worth in simulated road traffic. For example, pedestrians are represented by dummies who naturally must not be injured.

Dr. Peter Sweatman, the Founding Director of Mcity, told the automotive component supplier ZF Friedrichshafen: “For the purpose of validation, sensors need short distances with the same driving behaviour; test characteristics can therefore be placed close behind each other along the route.” By driving the sensors along this test section hundreds of times, the development time is reduced and the learning processes are speeded up.

The development centre for self-driving cars also deals with the legal aspects of autonomous driving, liability questions and possible hacker attacks on the vehicle data.

Read more: Tesla’s CEO: In 15 years autonomous driving will be standard

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