Skip to main content

Back to school: Ford engineers will work at new University of Michigan robotics lab

University of Michigan North Campus Research Complex
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Ford is expanding its collaboration with the University of Michigan in order to accelerate the development of self-driving cars.

The automaker will co-locate its own researchers and engineers with University of Michigan researchers at a new robotics lab set to open on the school’s Ann Arbor campus in 2020. Ford claims to be the first corporation to house staff in an academic building. It views this project as one step toward the development and deployment of a fully autonomous car by 2021.

Ford will begin the process of integrating its staff with University of Michigan researchers in the coming months. It plans to send a team of researchers and engineers to work at the university’s North Campus Research Complex (NCRX) by the end of the year.

Read more: Oxford develops robotic brain for self-driving cars

When the planned robotics lab opens in 2020, Ford will lease the fourth floor of the 140,000-square-foot building. It will be located near the University of Michigan’s Space Research Building, and will have enough space for robots to “walk, fly, drive, and swim” indoors, according to Ford. The building will also house offices and classrooms.

Ford already has a working relationship with the University of Michigan that includes use of the school’s Mcity facility for the testing of self-driving cars. Mcity is a simulated urban environment, complete with streets, traffic lights, and fake buildings. It was designed to create realistic conditions for autonomous-car testing in a controlled setting. Ford plans to triple its fleet of autonomous Fusion Hybrid test mules, bringing the total to 30 cars.

The carmaker’s endgame is a mass-market self-driving car, which it plans to begin deploying with ridesharing services in 2021. Unlike the Fusion Hybrid prototypes, this car will be a dedicated model, and won’t have any manual controls. Depending on how the ride-sharing phase goes, Ford may eventually sell the car to individual consumers as well.

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Autonomous vehicles set to get their own special roads in Michigan
michigan plans special roads for autonomous vehicles only cavnue an arbor road

The state of Michigan has unveiled an ambitious plan to build roadways solely for autonomous vehicles. In what would be a first for the U.S., the initial route would cover a distance of about 40 miles and run between Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Part of Michigan’s ongoing efforts to establish itself as the hub of autonomous-vehicle technology research and development, the special road could be built alongside Michigan Avenue and I-94 and used initially for testing and also public transportation using autonomous shuttles.

Read more
Robot car startup Aurora navigates its way to Texas for testing
aurora autonomous vehicles head to texas for testing self driving

Autonomous-vehicle specialist Aurora is taking its technology to Texas for testing.

The Silicon Valley-based startup said that in the next few weeks folks in and around Fort Worth can expect to see a small fleet of Aurora vehicles trundling along public roads.

Read more
Lyft’s driverless cars are back on the streets of California
lyft car

Lyft’s driverless cars are back on the streets of California.

The ridesharing company suspended testing of its autonomous vehicles earlier this year in response to shelter-in-place orders prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more