Automated vehicles may soon be driving through a simulated city center and a four-lane highway built at the University of Michigan. Dubbed the Mobility Transformation Facility, the test environment will include roundabouts, stoplights, a railroad crossing, building facades, and even a mechanical pedestrian. Its purpose is to allow researchers to safely evaluate how automated and networked vehicles respond to different road and traffic conditions. Assistant professor of computer science Edwin Olson says that code is being written to allow researchers to trigger events like "tricky traffic signal timings" or ill-timed jaywalking.

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According to Michigan Engineering, the facility will model the kind of "connected and automated mobility system" that the University of Michigan's Mobility Transformation Center is hoping to enable in Ann Arbor. "It would involve vehicles that communicate with each other and the world around them, rather than operating as autonomous 'islands unto themselves,'" Mobility Transformation Center director Peter Sweatman said in a statement. Set to open this fall, the facility is the state's latest attempt at embracing the push for self-driving vehicles.