A city with no people sounds like a post-apocalyptic nightmare. But this is Mcity: a fake metropolis, sprawling across 0.13 kilometers squared (32 acres) of land situated at the University of Michigan (U-M) in Ann Arbor.
Created by the university, the test environment officially opened this month (July 20) and was formed as a controlled setting to test out driverless cars, complete with connected roads, traffic lights and pedestrianized areas.
It makes scientific sense to test out the driverless cars in real yet human-free scenarios before this modern tech is applied in real life.
The artificial city has many of the same features of a real one. There are bridges, tunnels, unpaved streets, roundabouts, faded markings on roads and even graffiti on street signs. The realism is to ensure that even something seemingly minor – such as graffiti obscuring a sign – doesn't impact how automated vehicles handle road situations.
"Mcity is a safe, controlled, and realistic environment where we are going to figure out how the incredible potential of connected and automated vehicles can be realized quickly, efficiently and safely," U-M’s director of the Mobility Transformation Center Peter Sweatman said in a press release.
Working with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the university hopes that there will be 20,000 connected, driverless cars on the streets of Michigan by 2021.
[H/T: Live Science]