John Maddox leads a nonprofit that intends, soon, to transform these 335 forgotten acres at the Willow Run manufacturing complex in Southeast Michigan into the American Center for Mobility, an advanced proving ground for connected and autonomous vehicles of which Maddox is president and CEO.
Located between the headquarters of Detroit’s Big Three auto manufacturers and the R&D laboratories that have sprung up in nearby Ann Arbor, a high-speed testing center will fill a critical void and play an important role in getting self-driving cars ready for American roads, Maddox and state officials believe. In the fledgling autonomous age, this new anchor will allow automakers to examine scenarios too risky for real-world testing, determine how to safeguard data streaming off vehicles, and perhaps even one day explore how drones interact with freight movement.
Construction crews are scheduled to break ground early in 2017 on the first phase of the project, a 2.5-mile highway-style loop around Willow Run’s border that would permit the high-speed testing of cars and trucks. Should all go according to plan, that loop could be open for business by the end of 2017.
Read more about plans for the testing facility at caranddriver.com.