Auto experts tour American Center for Mobility with Ann Arbor SPARK

This feature is courtesy of Driven, the story of how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.
More than 200 attendees of the Autonomous Vehicle Test and Development Symposium deepened their understanding of the variety of testing and validation techniques used for connected and autonomous vehicles during a tour of the American Center for Mobility (ACM).

Economic development organization Ann Arbor SPARK extended an invitation to participants of the symposium, held in Novi, to tour the ACM and learn more about the advanced testing and validation operations available at the Ypsilanti Township-based test center.

“We have been partnering with the symposium organizers, and their focus is very much on the hardcore testing and development challenges being seen in the mobility space,” says Komal Doshi, director of mobility programs at SPARK.

“This crowd is mainly in the automotive industry and they’re wrapping their heads around what is being developed. We wanted them to come and see the ACM facility and, through demonstrations, we can share with them how the technology is tested,” she says.

The event included a presentation by Paul Krutko, CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK; and a physical tour of the facility by ACM operations and management partner company Intertek. Participants were able to see the many features of the world-class testing facility, including the highway loop, the live roadway test area, the curved tunnel, and the urban area that is currently being developed.

Detroit region-based mobility Industry partners AutonomouStuff, VSI Labs, P3 North America, and Trillium Secure provided demonstrations of crash avoidance, acceleration, and turning of autonomous shuttles, ADAS systems, data collection by sensors during testing, and cybersecurity.

Participants were local, national, and international, says Doshi. “They are a very interesting mix of suppliers and OEMs,” she says. “We encourage industry experts to hear the story we have to tell about how autonomous innovation is not just happening in California.”

Robert Vogt was interested to see ACM up close, even though his automotive engineering company, IOSix, is a close neighbor to the facility. He says ACM's size, design, and testing capabilities are impressive, and appropriate for autonomous vehicle testing and validation.

“I haven’t seen a better facility for this kind of work anywhere,” says Vogt, who is also chief technical officer of consumer telematics company Voyomotive.

“These facilities are a great way to do a lot of validation,” Vogt says. “This facility is designed to simulate real-world scenarios to meet needs in different regions of the world, with different lane markings, and that is key before putting vehicles out on the road with other traffic.”

Uniquely designed for the testing of connected and autonomous vehicles, road interactions, and smart infrastructure, ACM is very different from a legacy vehicle proving ground.

“The American Center for Mobility is an advanced facility that can be molded to meet the needs for testing and validation, and it’s a great place for interactions and demonstrations,” says Doshi. “We encourage people to spend more time here and learn about our important goals. It’s really putting this region on the map.”

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