American Center for Mobility Receives First License for AV Testing Software

The American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti Township has received the first license to use a new cloud-based operating system for testing connected or automated vehicles. The platform was developed by Mcity, an AV test site that mimics a small town at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
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American Center for Mobility test road
The American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti has received the first license to use Mcity OS to assist with testing connected or automated vehicles. // Photo courtesy of American Center for Mobility

The American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti Township has received the first license to use a new cloud-based operating system for testing connected or automated vehicles. The platform was developed by Mcity, an AV test site that mimics a small town at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The Mcity OS software lets researchers create and execute complex, repeatable testing scenarios for vehicles that are connected (CV), automated (AV), or both (CAV).

According to the developers, Mcity OS is especially useful in situations involving smart road infrastructure and intelligent transportation systems, as is the case at ACM, which collaborated with Mcity to integrate the software with simulated and physical test infrastructure at its 500-acre Smart Mobility Test Center, which is about 15 miles east of Ann Arbor.

With Mcity OS, researchers can accelerate CV, AV, or CAV testing, reduce testing costs, and speed up overall product development, according to Mcity. The software is controlled using a variety of internet-enabled devices, such as a smartphone, tablet/laptop, or in-vehicle computer system, through an app developed by Mcity called Skyline.

When Mcity OS is licensed for use at other testing sites, such as ACM, scenarios created at one location can be replicated at another, saving time and increasing the reliability of testing results.

“Vehicles of the future are magnitudes more capable and complex in their behaviors than vehicles today,” says Greg McGuire, associate director of Mcity. “Test facilities have to advance along with them in terms of their own capabilities.”

McGuire and Tyler Worman, the engineering lead at Mcity, say they saw the need for something like Mcity OS when they realized many users of Mcity’s test facility were not taking advantage of the infrastructure, such as smart intersections, a working railroad crossing, and pedestrian crosswalks.

“Testing engineers were controlling individual features at the test facility manually, perhaps by using a radio to instruct a colleague at a traffic signal to turn the light red,” Worman says. “With Mcity OS, you can orchestrate that.”

High-speed communication between users and the traffic infrastructure, robots, and vehicles, as well as virtual infrastructure and vehicles, supports robust data collection to verify test results and readily compare results from live testing with results from simulated testing.

“ACM is an ecosystem where we constantly look to integrate the latest testing technologies like Mcity OS to support engineers as they prove out new use case scenarios,” says Reuben Sarkar, president and CEO of ACM. “Mcity OS is now a key part of our toolset, serving to improve our customers’ efficiency when using ACM’s comprehensive capabilities. The collaboration with Mcity has been an outstanding example of how we can complement each other to bring new value to the mobility ecosystem.”

Mcity OS is not limited to use at vehicle test facilities; it could be the basis for future smart mobility applications as well.

Initially, Mcity’s goal was to create a software system specifically for use at the Mcity Test Facility. Early in the development, however, it became clear to the engineers that a framework for AV test scenario creation and execution would have value in supporting mobility research more broadly, beyond the Mcity Test Facility.

Mcity OS has been deployed in the city of Ann Arbor to support joint U-M/city research initiatives, making it possible to scale up from, for example, 10 intersections and two vehicles to a few hundred vehicles and 70 or 80 intersections of data. That came with its own set of challenges.

“We’ve changed technologies behind the scenes quite a bit, but we’ve really tried to not change anything that users interact with,” Worman says. “If you wrote a testing or research data collection scenario two years ago during the early development phase of Mcity OS, it will still run today.”

For inquiries about licensing Mcity OS, contact the U-M Office of Technology Transfer at 734-763-0614 or techtransfer@umich.edu.

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