Are artificial cities the answer to AV road safety?

As Stephane Barbier, chief development of officer at Transpolis, a mobility testing ground at the foot of the French Alps, explains, “To statistically prove an autonomous vehicle is as good as a human driver, it would have to be road-tested for millions of kilometres. Fake cities, complemented by virtual testing, are the best way to rack up the testing kilometres without putting lives at stake.” Several campus-style test cities which replicate real-world world routes and common obstacles now exist across the globe. 

South Korea’s K-City was among the first and is now integrating communications into the testing it conducts with the implementation of 5G. Mcity at University of Michigan, though, is perhaps the best-known artificial city. Covering 32 acres, it features everything an AV might encounter on the road including worn road signs, ‘pedestrian’ dummies and even a tunnel which mimics overpasses where signals may be disrupted.