New Michigan AV Site to Handle Testing Too Dangerous for Public Roads

Toyota plans to open a 60-acre test facility to replicate “edge case” driving scenarios, or those that cannot be safely performed in public spaces.

by Benjamin Raven, / May 4, 2018

(TNS) — Toyota plans to open a 60-acre site to test and develop autonomous vehicle technology in October at the Michigan Technical Resource Park in Ottawa Lake, Michigan.

One of its key uses will be replicating "edge case" driving scenarios that are too dangerous or risky to perform on public roads, according to the Japanese automaker. It will also serve as a proving ground to accelerate the development of its Toyota Guardian automation mode.

The automaker revealed the plans in a Thursday morning, May 3 news release, and said that construction of the closed-course facility is underway. Ottawa Lake is in deep southeast Michigan just miles from the Michigan-Ohio border and northeast of Toledo.

"By constructing a course for ourselves, we can design it around our unique testing needs and rapidly advance capabilities, especially with Toyota Guardian automated vehicle mode," Ryan Eustice, Toyota Research Institute senior vice president of automated driving, said in the release.

"This new site will give us the flexibility to customize driving scenarios that will push the limits of our technology and move us closer to conceiving a human-driven vehicle that is incapable of causing a crash."

Toyota says it will build the new facility inside of the Michigan Technical Resource Park's 1.85-mile oval-shaped test track. As part of Toyota's work, it will replicate congested urban environments, slick surfaces, and a four-lane highway complete with high-speed entrance and exit ramps.

The automaker says it will lease the land from the resource park, but Toyota is responsible for its own design, construction and maintenance of the facility once it is up and running. As part of the partnership, though, Toyota will have access to the existing oval track, on-site facilities and services.

The Michigan Technical Resource Park launched as a proving ground for auto manufacturers back in 1968. It was reportedly sold to a private developer back in 2010, and now serves as a testing site available for testing and advanced engineered technology development.

©2018, Walker, Mich. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.