Michigan Economic Development Corporation(MEDC) has granted $3 million funding to American Center for Mobility(ACM) to convert the factory which formerly used by General Motors(GM) into a self-driving vehicle testing facility. The factory has been closed since 2010.
Autonomous cars claim to be able to reduce car accidents as well as making commuting more productive as the drivers will be able to do other things such as having meetings or sending emails while the car drive itself to the destination. However, despite all these benefits, the self driving technology also needs to be tested as such that it is deemed to be safe.
ACM plans to use Willow Run centre to test self driving cars for various situations which could occur on public roads. The centre initially was built by Ford in 1942 as a production plant for B-24 bombers. After the war, it was then converted into a factory which mass produced various parts of automobiles before GM took over. In 2010, GM closed all the activities in the centre. It was then used as a storage warehouse until ACM acquired it and converts into a self driving test facility.
The conversion will need about a total of $79 million for it to be fully functional and ready to test self driving cars. ACM plans to secure about $59 million in federal funding and $17 million from the state. The $3 million funding is enough to cover early phase costs such as property acquisition, professional due diligence and start-up support for the centre.
Rick Snyder, Michigan Governor, said that Michigan is proud of its auto heritage, but their goal was to be the leader in this industry for generations to come. He added that they needed to stay on the cutting edge of technology connected with their vehicles.