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Toyota Readying Its Own Autonomous Car Testing Site

New site allows TRI to conduct more "dangerous" testing.

by on May.03, 2018

The Toyota Research Institute plans to build an autonomous vehicle test site within the MITRP.

Toyota is looking to take its autonomous vehicle testing to a new level – a more dangerous one – without putting the public at risk so it’s going to construct a new closed-course testing facility near Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) filed construction permits this week to transform an approximately 60-acre site at Michigan Technical Resource Park (MITRP) in Ottawa Lake into a facility that takes testing to the edge.

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Expected to be operational this October, the new site will be used exclusively by TRI to safely replicate demanding “edge case” driving scenarios, too dangerous to perform on public roads.

“By constructing a course for ourselves, we can design it around our unique testing needs and rapidly advance capabilities, especially with Toyota Guardian automated vehicle mode,” said Ryan Eustice, TRI senior vice president of automated driving.

(Toyota creates $2.8B company to develop autonomous cars. Click Here for the story.)

Safety advocates suggest that facilities like the American Center for Mobility are better suited for autonomous vehicle testing.

“This new site will give us the flexibility to customize 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.”

The TRI facility will be constructed inside MITRP’s 1.75-mile oval test track, and include congested urban environments, slick surfaces and a four-lane divided highway with high-speed entrance and exit ramps.

The new facility will join several other similar sites, such as the American Center for Mobility, U-M’s MCity in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and several other sites owned by other automakers that allows them to conduct testing without allowing the results to be shared with other companies.

(Click Here for more about Toyota donating $5 million to autonomous vehicle test facility.)

Toyota plans to debut its updated autonomous vehicle, Platform 3.0, at the 2018 CES.

Though TRI is leasing the land from MITRP, Toyota is responsible for design, construction and maintenance of the facility. TRI will also have access to the oval track and other onsite facilities and services, which are owned by MITRP and provided to all its customers.

This new site expands TRI’s closed-course testing capabilities, adding to partnerships with GoMentum Station in California, and the aforementioned MCity and American Center for Mobility in Michigan.

“We are very excited about the partnership with TRI,” said Mike Jones, president of MITRP.  “We believe that this relationship will be a proven winner.”

(To see more about Toyota’s plans up to now for an autonomous vehicle, Click Here.)

The MITRP site has been a vehicle proving ground since 1968 when it was created by a tier-one automotive supplier. The 336-acre technology park was sold to a private developer in 2010, and it now operates as a venue available to the automotive, commercial vehicle and mobile off-highway vehicle builders and component suppliers for testing and advanced engineered technology development.

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