Xerox in the Driver’s Seat

Think Xerox just makes printers? They’re also innovating our roadways. Xerox is the leading developer of intelligent parking technologies, flexible payment methods for public transit and electronic toll collection. Xerox is automating transportation in more ways than we know.

Earlier this month, the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center, “MTC,” announced the Mobility Transformation Facility, “MTF.” Bad naming conventions aside, this 32-acre facility will be astounding. This plot of land will soon host a simulated city full of robotics and building facades, scheduled for a September 12 ribbon cutting ceremony.

mtf illustration

Above is an artist’s conception of the project from MTC’s website.

The goal is to introduce fully functional, automated vehicles to the streets of the University of Michigan’s hometown, Ann Arbor, by 2021. No human interaction required—just point A to point B.

Along with car manufacturers and Michigan’s MTC, Xerox is also helping to develop this real-life version of SimCity. The facility will feature a four-lane highway, a downtown area, traffic signals, and intersections including railroad crossings and roundabouts. The university is currently working with one Ford Fusion hybrid that it hopes can navigate the course, from A to B with all of the distractions in between.

Yes, the automated vehicles at the MTF will also have to deal with the horrors of construction zones and orange cones.

In its final configuration, MTC’s facility could resemble a thriving city inhabited by automated vehicles and transportation systems. Xerox’s experience will likely prove as the driving force (sorry about the pun) behind the U of M’s engineers. Who knows where this technology will take our country within just a decade.

Google’s automated vehicle technology has been making all of the news lately. The university’s project differs in that they are using a controlled environment, whereas Google is sending its test subjects directly into a human-influenced environment.

A fun part of MTC’s project to watch will be when they introduce mechanical humans into the simulated city. These pseudo-humans will possess all of the unpredictable qualities that make driving around pedestrians and bicyclists so exhilarating (you know what I mean). The mechanical people will walk into the middle of the street, ignore the right of way and do everything else that turns them into target practice for unaware drivers.

Xerox has already integrated transportation solutions into local and state roadways, and commercial services—in over 35 countries!

Precision is something that Xerox excels at. The company’s philosophy is to help businesses take control of the unpredictable. Applying that to the roadways makes perfect sense.