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Ann Arbor Could Get Driverless Vehicles By 2021

ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) - The University of Michigan is working with auto industry and government officials on plans to bring a fleet of networked, driverless vehicles to Ann Arbor by 2021.

The goal of the Mobility Transformation Center was detailed in an announcement Friday.

Peter Sweatman, director of the Ann Arbor school's Transportation Research Institute, says that the project would make the city a leader in 21st century mobility. He says an aim is to ensure that such vehicles can be safe, effective and commercially successful.

A connected vehicle project, called Safety Pilot, involves about 3,000 area residents in networked vehicles.

Last month, University of Michigan officials green-lighted a $6.5 million facility for testing automated vehicles that's designed to simulate a cityscape.

"There have been a host of innovations in this arena in recent years, but one of the major challenges ahead is to ensure that these vehicles can perform safely and reliably in a complex urban setting," Sweatman said, in a media release. "Testing a workable system of such technologies in a realistic off-road environment is an essential step before a significant number of vehicles can be safely implemented on actual roadways."

"Connected and automated vehicles provide a new platform for safety improvements, better traffic movement, emissions reduction, energy conservation and maximized transportation accessibility," Sweatman said. "The new facility will help the MTC accelerate and integrate innovations that will lead to a commercially viable automated mobility system that will fundamentally transform mobility in our society."

Occupying 30 acres at the U-M's North Campus Research Complex, the novel test environment will include approximately three lane-miles of roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, sidewalks, benches, simulated buildings, street lights and obstacles such as construction barriers.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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