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Mich.'s Self-Driving Car Lane Gets $130M from Ford, Others

Michigan's groundbreaking connected and automated vehicle lane will run between Detroit and Ann Arbor. Ford will provide not only financial support but also infrastructure support to ensure connectivity for vehicles.

aerial view of cars on highway
(TNS) — The road to an autonomous commute is underway and Ford has stepped up to help pave it.

Michigan’s first connected and automated vehicle corridor received $130 million in capital funding, led by Ford and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners.

The project connecting Detroit to Ann Arbor was announced in 2020 and reached new milestones in planning and funding this month. Cavnue, the company chosen by the state to lead the project, identified the initial segment of I-94 that could move self-driving vehicles along a 25-mile stretch.

With the location scouted out, the funding will move the ball forward.

Cavnue has built partnerships with industry leaders to create an advisory committee of automotive and autonomous mobility companies including Detroit’s big three.

As part of Ford’s strategic investment, Cavnue will leverage Ford vehicles and hands-free driving technology to demonstrate how Cavnue’s smart road platform can enhance vehicle performance experiences through vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity, according to the press release.

Ford’s technical team will help Cavnue with manufacturing requirements and accelerate development of the digital infrastructure needed to communicate with connected vehicles, including the definition of messages, sensing requirements and protocols.

The focus on autonomous vehicle safety and improved user experience matched Ford’s goal of “transportation that is safe, connected, sustainable and obtainable for all,” said Franck Louis-Victor, vice president, New Businesses, Ford Next LLC.

“Cavnue’s mission to build the world’s most advanced roads aligns with that vision and has the potential to help accelerate the pace at which we can advance driver assistance features and safely deploy autonomous vehicles,” Louis-Victor said.

The autonomous highway announcement comes on the heels of Ford’s electric vehicle celebration as production begins on the F-150 Lightning pickup.

Next steps for Cavnue include further work with Michigan Department of Transportation to provide traffic studies, environmental analysis, road design and operational planning, as well as public engagement.

Legislatively, the state’s role is still being discussed. The senate passed a bill to give MDOT authority to designate a segment of highway for an autonomous roadway. The bill has not been voted on in the House.

©2022 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.