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Autonomous vehicle planned for Detroit starts safety testing at Mcity

  • By May Mobility
  • noviembre 27, 2023

The University of Michigan, May Mobility and the City of Detroit look to boost public trust in autonomous vehicle technology.


ANN ARBOR— Safety testing on a new autonomous vehicle (AV) is underway at the University of Michigan’s Mcity Test Facility to ensure the technology is ready to safely serve older adults and people with disabilities in the City of Detroit.

On Friday, U-M researchers kicked off several months of testing with an autonomous vehicle provided by May Mobility, a leader in the development of autonomous vehicle technology. The vehicle under test is like those destined for Detroit. The evaluation is taking place at the Mcity Test Facility—the world’s first purpose-built environment for testing connected and automated vehicles and technologies under controlled, realistic conditions. The vehicle will undergo a two-part testing methodology developed by Mcity, called the Mcity Safety Assessment Program, which is designed to challenge an AV on multiple levels.

“Automated vehicles have the potential to make transportation safer and cleaner while ensuring equitable access to mobility options,” Mcity Director Henry Liu said. “But only if consumers can trust the vehicles are safe. We believe the Mcity Safety Assessment Program could serve as the blueprint for a publicly visible safety framework, helping to bring automated vehicle technology to market in a manner that truly benefits society.”

Testing of the shuttle for Detroit comes at a time when autonomous vehicles are under intense scrutiny. Recent crashes and traffic incidents have raised concerns about the safety of vehicles operating without human drivers.

To address these concerns, the City of Detroit’s Automated Driving Systems (ADS) Shuttle will undergo a thorough evaluation process, beginning with the testing at Mcity, and the deployment of the shuttles will feature a skilled safety operator on board in each May Mobility vehicle. These operators will not only be available to answer questions but will also assist Detroit wheelchair users when boarding and exiting the shuttle.

“From design to launch and beyond, we have embedded strong safety practices into all of our processes,” said Satvir Singh, director of product safety at May Mobility. “Participating in Mcity’s Safety Assessment Program is one crucial step to ensuring that each AV we deploy will bring our riders to their destinations safely and comfortably. With the help of our partners at Mcity, we feel confident that our vehicles will exceed expectations and set a new standard for AV technology safety in Detroit and across the world.”

The Mcity Safety Assessment Program’s two-part protocol includes:

  • A “Driver’s License Test” that measures basic behavioral competency of a highly autonomous vehicle through random scenario generation. (Think of it as a driver’s test for machines.)

  • A “Driving Intelligence Test” that challenges AI-based algorithms with a diverse set of driving scenarios, representing those that most often result in crashes, injuries and fatalities.

The program combines testing with physical vehicles, as well as people, vehicles, and other objects that are computer-simulated.

Testing of the AV at Mcity will likely run through February. From there, it will be sent to the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, for extended high-speed testing.

In July, the Detroit City Council unanimously voted to approve a $2.4 million contract between the Office of Mobility Innovation and May Mobility. This contract is aimed at facilitating the Detroit ADS shuttle to provide transportation options for an under-resourced segment of Detroit’s population.

The city plans to deploy the shuttle in June 2024. The program will offer complimentary transportation services to Detroit residents aged 65 and older or those living with disabilities. This service will facilitate seamless travel to and from essential destinations such as stores, medical appointments, workplaces, and more.

"We are excited that the rigorous self-driving shuttle testing is underway with Mcity,” said Tony Geara, deputy chief of the City of Detroit’s Office of Mobility Innovation. “This thorough evaluation process underscores the City of Detroit's commitment that self-driving technology will be safe and effective before it is on our streets. We are starting this ambitious pilot project with the Mcity Safety Assessment Program as a critical step toward learning how self-driving vehicles can effectively serve real community needs in Detroit.”

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