From more than 200 miles away, Purdue University researchers have been able to test their autonomous vehicle technology using the University of Michigan’s real-world test track in Ann Arbor, and challenge it using both real and virtual cars and pedestrians.
This first remote use of the Mcity Test Facility came 14 months after U-M announced plans to develop “Mcity 2.0” – an enhancement of the world’s first purpose-built test environment for AVs and connected vehicles and technologies. Helped by a $5.1 million (£4 million), four-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the researchers say the Mcity 2.0 project makes the facility’s technology, datasets and physical test track available to researchers anywhere in the US without requiring them to travel to Michigan.
Engineers from Purdue’s Connected Automated and Resilient Transportation Lab in the neighbouring state of Indiana are currently working on a research project that focuses on how to systematically evaluate safety and other AV performance measures. They have their own SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicle for research in West Lafayette, Indiana. For testing, they use one of the parking lots at Ross-Ade Stadium, home of the Boilermakers football team.
What they do not have at Purdue is access to tools that would answer their questions about how their AV algorithms perform in a realistic traffic environment. Or how they can integrate algorithms with other elements, such as infrastructure applications, 5G communication, and interactions with traffic signals.
“We’re not able to answer these questions because, one, we do not have a dedicated city testing facility at Purdue, and it’s unsafe to test on public roads,” said Yiheng Feng, an assistant professor of civil engineering at Purdue. “We do not have a realistic traffic environment to interact with. And we do not have good infrastructure support so we can integrate our algorithms with other applications.”
(Picture – Mcity)