Cooley On Cars
Inside the self-driving car facilities of Silicon Valley and DetroitBrian Cooley takes a closer look at the inner workings of Silicon Valley's GoMentum Station and Detroit's Mcity.
[MUSIC] Today, autonomous cars can legally drive the roads of California, Nevada, Michigan, and Florida, but so far only under adult supervision. So where do AVs go to stretch their legs and really test their abilities We're at the Concord Naval Weapons Depot. This is in Concord, California. Back during the Cold War, this place would hae ranked just behind France as a nuclear power by warhead count. That's all been decommissioned, and now something of a different type of intrigue takes place here. Teaching self driving cars how to drive in the real word. Car makers have typically tested their new cars on their own test tracks. But also heavily on public roads. An entire industry of spy photography grew up. [UNKNOWN] autonomous vehicles are different because bugs in them can lead to dead people. This is the largest autonomous car test site in the world. Twenty one hundred acres, twenty miles of road. And they've been let, rather than go to sea, since this base was, partly, realigned, in 2007. That's just fine by car makers. Because a pristine, traffic environment, presents few of the real world potholes, faded lane lines and poorly marked abutments. that autonomous cars, will encounter, in the real world. [MUSIC] 99% of the time when we drive on the roads, it's easy driving. 1% of the time, something unusual happens. So by testing at [INAUDIBLE] Station we're able to stage those 1% situations. A ball running across the road or Trial coming up from between cars. These vehicles see their way around momentum station is many sensors. Here, the high resolution GPS antenna to make the mapping really precise. Up here on the roof is a lidar. This does contour mapping with a spinning sensor that sees shapes in the world around it. And then cameras have their own unique ability to not just tell what's out there but where something is. But what's also being tested here is early implementation of V2V. Vehicle to vehicle communication. Using a slice of IR spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band. Which then becomes labeled DSRC, Dedicated Short Range Communications. Vehicle to vehicle communications or V to V, is vehicles speaking or talking directly to other cars ten times a second. Basic information, how fast am I going? What heading am I on? Is there a [MUSIC] An aspect is a vehicle in motion that needs to be transmitted to another car. And what that does. It allows drivers to be warned. But it also allows vehicles to automatically avoid collisions. The v to v wireless spectrum is being hotly fought over by car makers and wireless carriers who each want it. Car makers, though, are wary of sharing it with [UNKNOWN]. Because their automotive mission is so. Critical. They don't want to see an autonomous car run into something, just because some Netflix packet got in the way of an important signal to the car. V2V via DSRC is expected by the US government to eventually cut 80% of all collisions that involve non-impaired drivers. Honda and Acura engineers are here now [UNKNOWN] would like to add more curious geeks from vehicle makers to those who may be one one day. Google, Apple, other manufacturers have approached us and we've taken a look at maybe partnering with these companies. To begin their testing here, at least in California, in Concord, at the Gomentum Station. [MUSIC] Gomentum Station is in Silicon Valley's backyard. But the groundbreaking M City testing grounds in Ann Arbor, Michigan is in the auto industry's backyard. And is run in cooperation with the esteemed University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. M City's about 32 acres of intersections, roundabouts, benches Building and parked cars and also something Momentum Station doesn't have, crappy winter weather, an important and serious hurdle for autonomous vehicles. Ford's one of the biggest customers of Mcity, and they've appropriately been one of the first to announce that they've got autonomous cars testing in the snow. Michigan may soon be the first place with two major autonomous vehicle playgrounds. Becoming American Center for Mobility is planned for the old Willow Run Plant in Ypsilanti, best known for building B-24s. Back in the day. It'll be about ten times the size of Mcity. But still much smaller than GoMentum. [MUSIC]