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Flint’s Kettering U. pushes to complete autonomous research facility

Bob McMahan photo
Scott Pohl
Kettering University president Bob McMahan spent time at the Detroit Auto Show to discuss the Mobility Research Center with reporters.

Kettering's new vehicle and mobility systems development proving ground will open in the spring.

The state of Michigan is promoting autonomous vehicle research to the world’s automakers. As the media descended on Detroit last week to cover the North American International Auto Show, reporters had access to an event called “Automobili-D,” where a wide range of emerging technologies was on display.

Kettering University president Bob McMahan says construction of their Mobility Research Center began last year in Flint, and will be completed in the next few months. In the meantime, researchers will be able to start working at the center of the completed portion of the site.

Kettering’s Mobility Research Center was built on the site of the original GM factory complex in Flint, remembered as “Chevy in the hole.”

President McMahan says Michigan is a particularly useful site for this sort of facility because of the different conditions offered by the four seasons.

There is a concern that America's roads will need technology, too, and that autonomous vehicle research is ahead of the roadway infrastructure. According to president McMahan, there will be a mixed fleet of cars for some time, with both "legacy" vehicles with drivers and others that are self-driven. He thinks that decades in the future, the fleet will be almost fully autonomous.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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