The Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle has become the first model to begin testing at the University of Michigan's Mcity.
The 32-acre site features a full-scale simulated urban environment that includes everything you would expect in a 'real' city. This means automakers will be able to test their autonomous prototypes in a safe but realistic environment that includes street lights, crosswalks, fire hydrants, trees and street signs.
Mcity also has a two-, three- and four-lane roads as well as roundabouts, tunnels and entry / exit ramps. Vehicles can also be tested on a variety of different surfaces including concrete, asphalt, dirt and a simulated brick road.
While Ford has been testing autonomous vehicles for more than a decade, it said testing at Mcity will enable it to simulate a number of different real-world scenarios such as a car running a red light. Ford can then see how the car reacts while ensuring everyone is safe.
The Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle was unveiled in late 2013 and it features front-facing cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors as well as four LiDAR sensors that generate a real-time 3D map of the vehicle’s surrounding environment. The model is currently being used for testing purposes but Ford says it is working on making the sensing and computing technologies feasible for production.