The self-driving car revolution is supposed to come out of Google, or Apple or one of those companies Elon Musk runs (SpaceX, Tesla), right? Well the Motor City — or at least its University of Michigan neighbor, Ann Arbor — isn’t ceding the auto business to Silicon Valley just yet. Michigan, where Henry Ford famously perfected the assembly line, has just build an entire ghost town to test driverless cars.
Mcity is built on 32 acres owned by the University of Michigan. It looks more like something you’d find in Southern California on a studio lot than in the Bay Area. Buidings are facade-only edifices, with traffic lights and street signs and everything else an everyday driver encounters. It’s a “unique off-roadway cityscape with a broad range of complexities.” (It looks like someplace John Wayne would be comfortable walking around.) Thirteen car and other types of companies (Verizon, Xerox, Toyota, Ford, etc.) have contributed funding, in partnership with the university and the state of Michigan.