Toyota Moving Forward With AV Research Facility

Toyota is taking its research into automated vehicles to a new level of complexity by constructing a test facility dedicated to the development of AV technology.

The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) took out construction permits this week to develop about 60 acres at Michigan Technical Resource Park (MITRP) at Ottawa Lake, Michigan.

Scheduled to be operational in October, the new site will be used exclusively by TRI to safely replicate demanding “edge case” driving scenarios too dangerous to perform on public roads.

“By constructing a course for ourselves we can design it around our unique testing needs and rapidly advance capabilities, especially with Toyota Guardian automated vehicle mode,” says Ryan Eustice, TRI senior vice president of automated driving. “The new site will give us the flexibility to customize driving scenarios that will push the limits of our technology and move us closer to conceiving a human-driven vehicle that is incapable of causing a crash.”

The facility will be constructed inside MITRP’s 1.7-mile oval test track and will include congested urban environments, slick surfaces and a four-lane divided highway with high-speed entrance and exit ramps.

TRI is responsible for design, construction and ultimate maintenance of the leased site. It will also have access to the oval track and other on-site facilities and service owned by MITRP and provided to all its customers.

The new site expands TRI’s closed-course testing capabilities, adding to partnerships with GoMentum Station in California and Mcity and the American Center for Mobility in Michigan.

The MITRP site has been a vehicle proving ground since 1968 when it was created by a tier-one automotive supplier. The 336-acre technology park was sold to a private developer in 2010, and it now operates as a venue available to automotive, commercial vehicle and mobile off-highway vehicle builders and component suppliers for testing and advanced engineered technology development.

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