Understanding how connected and autonomous vehicles work in real-world scenarios is essential to the development and improvement of these technologies. That is where test beds come in as part of the research process. Detroit has a unique advantage in this process with its urban test bed setting, allowing access to data that is more similar to how actual drivers will perform in city settings.
Michigan began using its Detroit Test Bed in 2014 as part of that year’s ITS World Congress. The Test Bed has 17 roadside units installed between its Cobo convention hall and Beaubien Street in downtown Detroit. The Detroit Test Bed has a wider array of features than the average, including what is known as an “urban canyon” and tunnel under the Millender Center, a large multifamily building. Having such technology provides much-needed insights into how the technology works for the average urban driver, and the outcome of such testing has value to future connected vehicle applications.
Test Beds in cities such as Palo Alto and Orlando offer important insights, but having such a tool within the city of Detroit is especially key to development. Data culled from the Detroit Test Bed has proven especially important to the region and nation as further developments with connected and autonomous technology occur, and there is room for additional research, investment and partnerships to grow the Detroit Test Bed further and create data that supports safety, improves mobility and reduces transportation’s impact on the greater environment.