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Detroit ADS Pilot Safety Testing to Commence at American Center for Mobility

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The Detroit Automated Driving Systems (ADS) shuttle pilot has entered a new stage of safety testing at the American Center for Mobility (ACM). Since the beginning of March 2024, ACM has launched a months-long safety testing program with May Mobility, a leader in the development and deployment of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. ACM has been conducting rigorous testing to ensure the safety, reliability, and efficiency of the ADS shuttle service, which will use May Mobility’s AVs, equipped with the company’s state-of-the-art Multi-Policy Decision Making (MPDM) technology. A comprehensive evaluation process is key to achieving this goal.

In 2019, The City of Detroit was awarded a $7.5M USDOT grant to demonstrate Automated Driving Systems (ADS) with a focus on safety, data collection, and collaboration. The pilot project is being led by City of Detroit’s Office of Mobility Innovation and members of the Michigan Mobility Collaborative (MMC), a public-private partnership developed to support the mission of developing mobility solutions for older adults and people with disabilities.

Meet the Michigan Mobility Collaborative (MMC)

The MMC was formed to test and deploy safe and scalable approaches to automated mobility in Michigan. It is composed of mobility leaders in Michigan dedicated to shaping the future of transportation automation.

MMC members include:

  • City of Detroit
  • The American Center of Mobility
  • Deloitte
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Knight Foundation
  • Mcity at the University of Michigan
  • Michigan Department of Transportation
  • University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI)
  • Wayne State University

The MMC will bring comprehensive technical support toward advancing the project’s three fundamental pillars: safety, data, and collaboration.

Future engagement activities include surveys, events, interviews, and focus groups, and will be coordinated with the MMC engagement schedule and will continue through 2025. Program updates and engagement information is available at: https://bit.ly/DetroitAccessibili-D

The pilot’s primary goal has been to provide convenient transportation for Detroiters aged 62 and older and/or those living with disabilities, facilitating trips to various destinations such as stores, doctor appointments, work, or recreational and leisure activities. Importantly, the service will be provided free of charge to eligible riders. With the approval of a $2.4 million contract between the Office of Mobility Innovation and May Mobility last July, significant strides have been made in advancing the Detroit ADS shuttle pilot. This partnership has ushered in a new era of innovation, with rigorous safety testing initiatives happening in sequence at MCity and ACM.

“ACM’s comprehensive testing & evaluation process ensures that every aspect of the ADS shuttle's performance is thoroughly evaluated under the lens of a replicated real-life deployment scenarios,” says Reuben Sarkar, President and CEO of American Center for Mobility, “ACMs 500-acre state-of-the-art testing facility stands as the ideal location for designing, conducting, and evaluating such critical requirements.”

ACM’s controlled yet close-to-real-life pragmatic test approach is happening in sequence with MCity’s Driver’s License test and Driving Intelligence Tests which were initiated at the beginning of the year.

While operating May Mobility's autonomous vehicle, the American Center for Mobility (ACM) is using various innovative tools and infrastructure to ensure thorough testing. With a focus on safety and realism, ACM adheres to Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) standards, incorporating a newly painted bike lane into its testing environment. Employing state-of-the-art robotic platforms and soft pedestrian targets, ACM is equipped to create genuine scenarios encountered in urban settings like Detroit. ACM team even embarked on a journey to Detroit, seeking an up-close examination of real-world environments crucial for ensuring the accuracy of their testing environment and process.

By immersing themselves in the city's streets, ACM aimed to replicate authentic scenarios encountered in everyday driving experiences. Whether it is navigating around obstacles like a stray trash can obstructing the road, responding to unexpected events like a car reversing out of a driveway, sharing roadways with bicyclist and pedestrians or AV’s reaction to traffic lights phase and timing, ACM studied and replicated these situations. By incorporating such unpredictable environments into their testing, ACM has created a testing environment that mimics real-world driving, contributing to the advancement of autonomous vehicle technology.

"Safety is paramount to the American Center for Mobility in our pursuit of testing automated vehicles," said Dr. Sushanta Das, Technical Director at American Center for Mobility. “We are committed to creating an environment that closely mirrors real-world conditions. By prioritizing safety, we strive to instill confidence in our testing processes and contribute to the development of autonomous vehicle technology that meets the highest standards of reliability and effectiveness."

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