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Southeast Michigan to become proving ground for autonomous cars

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【Summary】Before Donald Trump was inaugurated, the federal government, under the Obama Administration, announced 10 sites in the U.S. that would be allowed to officially test self-driving vehicles.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jan 25, 2017 1:10 PM PT
Southeast Michigan to become proving ground for autonomous cars

Autonomous cars are nearly here and the federal government wants to stay on top of self-driving technology before it becomes mainstream. To do that, the federal government, under the Obama Administration, announced 10 locations in the United States where testing of autonomous vehicles would be officially allowed. And the American Center for Mobility in Southeast Michigan, which is quickly becoming a prime location for self-driving technology, has been named as one of the 10 sites. 

What The Proving Grounds Will Do

In a statement, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) stated that the 10 proving grounds would be used to "encourage testing and information sharing around automated vehicle technologies." The DOT hopes that the sites will not only help self-driving technology expand, but also bring the new type of technology to "disadvantaged people and communities." 

The DOT chose between a competitive group of approximately 60 cities that applied. According to the statement, academic institutions, cities, private entities, partnerships, and even state Departments of Transportation applied. The 10 sites that were named were chosen for their capable safety planning, ability to share and disseminate information, as well as their ability to follows laws, policies, and regulations at all times, states the press release. 

The 10 proving ground sites include:

• City of Pittsburg and the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute

• Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership

• U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center

• American Center for Mobility (ACM) at Willow Run

• Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) & GoMentum Station

• San Diego Association of Governments

• Iowa City Area Development Group

• University of Wisconsin-Madison

• Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners

• North Carolina Turnpike Authority

Michigan's In The Spotlight

The American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti Township, MI has been named as one of the sites; and as the Detroit Free Press points out, it is a big deal for the state. The designation of being named as one of the 10 proving grounds doesn't come with any funding from the federal government, but for Michigan at least, it does include a private investment at the former Willow Run bomber plant, reports the outlet. 

The investment into the 311-acre, according to Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich., is a "big deal" as the battle for autonomous technology heats up between the U.S., Europe, and Asia to release the technology first. "This designation is absolutely vital to ensure that Michigan continues to be the center for advanced automotive technology," stated Peters. 

The DOT has been busy trying to stay on top of autonomous technology. Late last year, it proposed a rule that would require all automakers to equip its cars with vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology. If put into effect, automakers would have until 2023 to fully comply with the rule. The proposed year for the rule would go into effect in 2019, with automakers beginning to introduce the technology onto its vehicles in 2021.

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