An aeriel view of the MCity test site. Photo via University of Michigan

An aeriel view of the MCity test site. Photo via University of Michigan

Navistar is the latest truck maker to get involved in autonomous vehicles, with its involvement in a new test site at the University of Michigan designed to test connected and automated vehicle technologies that will lead the way to autonomous vehicles.

As part of a development partnership, the truck maker was involved in the opening of MCity. The 32-acre simulated urban environment features a network of roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, streetlights, building facades, sidewalks and construction obstacles.

The facility will be operated by University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center. MTC is a public-private research and development partnership aimed at developing a commercially viable ecosystem of connected- and automated-driverless vehicles. A goal of the MTC and its MCity test site is to implement a connected and automated mobility system on the streets of southeastern Michigan by 2021.

It is designed to support rigorous, repeatable testing of new technologies before they are tried out on public streets and highways, according to the university.

The types of technologies that will be tested at the facility include connected technologies – vehicles talking to other vehicles or to the infrastructure, commonly known as V2V or V2I – and various levels of automation, all the way up to fully autonomous, or driverless vehicles.

Navistar is a founding member of the MTC’s Leadership Circle and the only heavy-truck manufacturer participating in the initiative. Other companies in that circle include Honda, Ford, GM, Navistar, Qualcomm, State Farm, Toyota and Verizon.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Navistar to leverage our leadership in connected vehicle technologies and collaborate with others in the industry to make connected transportation a reality," said Denny Mooney, Navistar group vice president, global product development. "The innovation of today's connected vehicle technologies will drive significant improvements in the way people, goods and services move throughout society and we're proud to play an important role in this transformation."