The state of Michigan has long been considered the center of the U.S. and even the global auto industry, but it’s facing a stiff challenge from California’s Silicon Valley.
But Michigan is fighting back with the development of a new test for connected and automated autonomous vehicles.
The American Center for Mobility on the grounds of what of historic Willow Run defense plant in Ypsilanti Township outside of Ann Arbor, which will serve as a center for testing, education and product development for connected and automated vehicles, according to Michigan Gov. Gov. Rick Snyder.
The center also supported by two U.S. Senators and a score of other political figures both Republicans and Democrats as well as leaders in automotive technology all of whom were on hand to celebrate the official groundbreaking for ACM.
“Michigan is reinventing the way the world moves,” Snyder said. “We are second-to-none when it comes to automotive and technological innovation, and we remain committed to making sure that stays true for generations to come,” he added.
“This world-class facility will put Michigan at the forefront of the autonomous movement to ensure we lead the way as the auto industry transforms into the mobility industry,” the governor said.
The ARC is located on the 335-acre Willow Run site, where B-24 bombers were made during World War II, the Center will be a purpose-built for research, education, testing, standards-convening, product development, validation and self-certification for the kind of kind of technology that is expected to define personal mobility in the future, supporters of the project said.
“We envision the American Center for Mobility as a global hub for connected and automated vehicle technologies supported by Michigan’s high concentration of automotive expertise,” said John Maddox, president and CEO of the Center.
(Deal to make Arsenal of Democracy the vanguard of autonomy complete. Click Here for the story.)
“We are excited to be partnering with the state of Michigan to establish a fully-capable, real-world testing and innovation center that will be instrumental in putting self-driving cars on America’s roads,” he said.
The center will be made available for use by private industry, government and academics. It will serve as a technology hub, allowing companies to lease office space, garages and other services. There also is sufficient room for additional technically-oriented development by companies looking to expand existing or build new facilities close to the testing ground.
“The American Center for Mobility represents a turning point for the automotive industry and will play a key role in revolutionizing the global transportation landscape,” said Steve Arwood, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development.
“This investment will not only solidify Michigan’s place as the home for automotive innovation, but also help fuel new economic activity and create more and better jobs across the state,” Arwood added.
(To see more about the rebirth of The Arsenal of Democracy, Click Here.)
Earlier this month, Willow Run Arsenal of Democracy Landholdings Limited Partnership completed the purchase of the property from RACER Properties LLC, which was established to disposed of industrial property declared surplus during the re-organization of General Motors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in 2009.
The Michigan Legislature also has given its approval to a package of bills that permits testing of driverless vehicles on state roads. Snyder is expected to sign the bills soon.
In July, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. approved the $1.2-million purchase of 311 acres for the American Center for Mobility on the site of the former World War II Willow Run bomber plant. The center will be used to test vehicles that can talk to one another and drive on their own.
Last year, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor opened Mcity, a 32-acre simulated city and testing facility, opened on the University of Michigan’s North Campus, where automakers, suppliers and telecommunications companies are testing autonomous vehicle systems in a controlled environment.
(Automakers can’t sacrifice safety in rush for autonomous vehicles, cautions US Transportation Sec. Foxx. Click Here for the story.)
Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Nissan and Honda are founding partners in U-M’s Mobility Transformation Center, which oversees Mcity.