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AT&T wants to help your self-driving car talk to the world

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Teaming up with the largest driverless car testing site in the US

connected cars (department of transportation)

When it broke ground late last year, the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Michigan, was said to be country’s largest testing facility for automated and connected cars. Now, the site has a data provider. The telecom giant announced today that it is teaming up with the center to provide exclusive network resources needed to advance driverless technologies.

That means AT&T will work with the center, car companies, and tech startups to test automated and connected vehicles. It’ll also provide network service to allow the cars to talk to infrastructure, pedestrians, and to another car. This technology, called vehicle-to-everything (V2X), is currently be tested by a number of major automakers, suppliers, and tech companies.

“We want to create a safe, scalable and cost-effective driverless future. To get there, we have to do it together,” Chris Penrose, president of Internet of Things Solutions at AT&T, said in a statement. “The American Center for Mobility will provide an environment that will further cross-industry collaboration. Together, we’ll pave the way for innovations that change how we think about driving.”

A few weeks ago, the US Department of Transportation proposed a new rule that would require all new light-duty vehicles to include vehicle-to-vehicle communication capabilities to avoid collisions and accidents on the road. The American Center for Mobility, which is being built at the historic 335-acre Willow Run facility, will be a key site for the testing of these new vehicle technologies.

“For a car to be fully connected and automated, it needs to be able to ‘talk’ to everyone and everything around it in a highly secure manner,” said John Maddox, president and CEO, American Center for Mobility in a statement. “AT&T is bringing its cellular network strength and industry leadership into a comprehensive [connected and automated vehicle] test facility, and we’re thrilled to have them as our first industry collaborator.”