- Toyota Building Testing Facility for Autonomous Cars
Toyota is building a new testing facility for autonomous cars in Michigan, United States to avoid driving the vehicles on public roads after a pedestrian was killed by a self-driving Uber in Arizona two months ago.
The 60-acre site at Michigan Technical Resource Park (MITRP) in Ottawa Lake will be centred around a 1.75-mile oval track, a four-lane highway and a stretch of road designed to resemble a busy urban environment.
The high-tech facility, which opens in October, will be used to test drive scenarios that are considered too dangerous for outside roads.
Toyota has not tested any autonomous cars since March 18, when an Uber test car killed 44-year-old Rafaela Vasquez in Tempe, Arizona.
Video footage showed the Volvo XC-90 SUV hitting mother-of-two Vasquez at 38mph as she was wheeling her bike across the road. The car did not appear to slow down before the collision, raising concerns about its safety features.
Toyota hopes to use its Michigan facility to develop a new autonomous vehicle that is ‘incapable of causing a crash’, although safety campaigners may question if it is possible to perfect the technology outside of real-word environments.
‘This new site will give us the flexibility to customise driving scenarios that will push the limits of our technology and move us closer to conceiving a human-driven vehicle that is incapable of causing a crash,’ said Ryan Eustice, Senior Vice President of automated driving.
The high-tech facility will be used to test drive scenarios that are considered too dangerous for public roads.
MITRP owns the oval test track and has agreed to build more test labs and mock roads on behalf of the Japanese automotive giant.
“We are very excited about the partnership with TRI. We believe that this relationship will be a proven winner,” MITRP President Mike Jones said.
The MITRP site has been a vehicle testing ground since 1968.