Testing has begun at the University of Michigan’s Mcity Test Facility to evaluate the safety of a new automated shuttle for disabled and elderly citizens in Detroit.

The testing, which started in early November, consists of a two-part augmented reality test process named the Mcity Safety Assessment Program, which was developed by the Test Facility itself.

The Driverless May Mobility vehicle stops automatically to let a passerby cross the street during the first day of testing

The protocol includes a ‘Driver’s License Test’, which evaluates the vehicle’s basic competency across everyday scenarios, and a ‘Driving Intelligence Test’, which introduces various unpredictable scenarios to the vehicle, focusing predominantly on conditions that would often cause crashes or injuries.

Mcity Director and Bruce D. Greenshields Collegiate Professor of Engineering, Henry Liu, said:

Automated vehicles have the potential to make transportation safer and cleaner while ensuring equitable access to mobility options.

But only if consumers can trust the vehicles are safe. We believe the Mcity Safety Assessment Program could serve as the blueprint for a publicly visible safety framework, helping to bring automated vehicle technology to market in a manner that truly benefits society.

Trials of the new automated shuttle, provided by automatic vehicle specialist May Mobility, come in the wake of a recent wave of traffic incidents involving driverless vehicles, leading to increased concerns about the safety of the technology.

In order to tackle these concerns, the City of Detroit’s Automated Driving Systems (ADS) shuttle pilot will be subjected to an intense evaluation process, with testing followed by the implementation of a skilled safety specialist on board each May Mobility vehicle to answer questions and assist those with disabilities utilising the service.

Satvir Singh, director of product safety at May Mobility, said:

From design to launch and beyond, we have embedded strong safety practices into all of our processes.

Participating in Mcity’s Safety Assessment Program is one crucial step to ensuring that each AV we deploy will bring our riders to their destinations safely and comfortably. With the help of our partners at Mcity, we feel confident that our vehicles will exceed expectations and set a new standard for AV technology safety in Detroit and across the world.

Initial testing is set to run through February, before relocating to the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, where the shuttle will undergo further high-speed testing.

If successful, the city plans to introduce the shuttle by the end of Q2 2024.


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