Last week I was visiting family in my home town of Motown—Detroit. Spent a few hours at Greenfield Village, reviewing how technology repeatedly changed the way we farm and move. Without machines we would not have been able to increase population as much as we have in the last hundred years.
A client I visited discussed autonomous vehicles in a fashion similar to our goal in the 60’s to put a "man on the moon and safely return to earth.” Why do it? Here we are, some 50 years later and we are about to have NASA approve commercial space travel to the moon. What good has all of that been? Mainly we learned many other things and developed new, earth-useful things, like Velcro. Our quest for autonomous vehicles will produce other benefits to software, cybersecurity, cameras, accelerometers, steering controls and more. Just wait. You’ll see.
In the meantime, we need some places to test the vehicles. Companies are setting up test tracks at colleges and on private campuses. For several years now, a part of southeastern Michigan was instrumented for the Intelligent Vehicle Initiative and was demonstrated 2 years ago.
Driving the roads and streets in Detroit was like taking an FCA JEEP off road. They are beyond terrible. Here is an “out of the box” idea. Instead of taking corporate money and putting it into brand-spanking-new test sites, why not put some of that money into real streets in the North American home of the auto? Why not have Ford/GM/Fiat-Chrysler and all the Tier-1 suppliers in southeast Michigan get together with some infrastructure start-ups to revitalize the streets of Motown and make them shining examples of Autonomous Vehicle Infrastructure?