Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) and the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) announced on July 31 their intent to support the American Center for Mobility (ACM) as a Founder-level sponsor with a $5 million contribution. As an ACM contributor, Toyota will be a member of a government-industry team that supports ACM initiatives to create a large-scale test environment in Southeast Michigan where various companies can test their connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies. The company believes that the creation of this unique test environment will help support and accelerate the development of innovative CAV technologies because it allows the testing of technologies under a safe and controlled environment. This initiative is also expected to foster further innovation through collaboration with government and academic partners, and to serve as a catalyst for safer and more efficient transportation solutions with vehicles equipped with advanced CAV technologies.

“We are excited to be the first automaker joining this effort to create a test ground for advanced vehicle technologies in our backyard,” said Jeff Makarewicz, Group Vice President Safety and Vehicle Performance at TMNA Research & Development Center in Ann Arbor, MI. “Together with industry and government partners, we would like to set a direction to realize connected and automated vehicles to help improve safety and mobility.”

“As we move forward with the development of autonomous cars, we must remember that not all test miles are created equal," said Gill Pratt, CEO of TRI. "The road to creating a car as safe, or safer, than a human driver will require billions of test miles including simulation, real-world driving on public roads, and closed-course testing where we can expose our systems to extreme circumstances and conditions. The new ACM closed-course facility is a significant step forward in this journey and will accelerate our ability to help prevent crashes and save lives."

"I'm excited about our collaboration with Toyota," said John Maddox, President and CEO of the ACM. "Today's announcement is another example of Toyota's forward-looking vision and ability to move quickly on developing this potentially beneficial connected and automated technology."

“Toyota’s long history of research and development in Michigan is impressive, as is their continuing commitment to this state and its people," said Governor Rick Snyder. "Thanks to Toyota’s collaboration with ACM, Michigan can continue to maintain its momentum as a global leader in the ever-expanding transition from being the automotive capital to being the mobility capital.”

The ACM will be a purpose-built facility focused on testing, verification, and self-certification of connected and automated vehicles and other mobility technologies, located at the 335-acre Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township in southeast Michigan. The center is positioned to accommodate the broad needs of industry and government with its capabilities to test vehicles, roads, infrastructure, and communication systems, while providing room to grow and adapt as technology dictates. The site comes with a number of desirable features and structures already in place, including double overpasses, a railroad crossing, and a highway loop to test at sustained highway speeds. Testing can occur during all four seasons, day and night, in sun, rain, ice, and snow. These elements help to create an ideal environment for testing and setting national standards for mobility technologies before vehicles and other products are deployed. The center will also serve as a development facility for companies to lease space for office, research, and other purposes. For more information about the ACM, visit http://www.acmwillowrun.org/the-project/.