Robot pedestrians, robot animals, and robot cars all make up the University of Michigan’s “M City,” a 23-acre suburb-like test site for new autonomous vehicles. Toyota is testing some of its latest self-driving car technology at this facility, specifically designed to assess how well the new computer systems really work.
Although you might be expecting something like KITT from “Knight Rider,” Toyota autonomous car technology resembles standard models. Using an array of camera and sensor technology, these cars are capable of navigating with absolute precision; however, Toyota is still working out some of the kinks. According to Bloomberg Business, the M City facility is perfect for testing the new models.
“We would never do any dangerous or risky tests on the open road, so this will be a good place to test some of the next technology,” says Hideki Hada, GM for electronic systems at Toyota’s Technical Center. “A big challenge is intersections in the city, because there are vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles together with complex backgrounds with buildings and connections to infrastructure. That’s why this is really important.”
By giving the self-driving cars a network of mechanized obstacles, Toyota can safely test the systems without putting any real lives in danger. Although we’ve already seen the fruits of some of this research, Toyota says it still has years before a safe self-driving car will hit the market.