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New Willow Run test facility could entrench autonomous car industry in Michigan

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says Ford could stand to refresh its model lineup, and should invest more in connected vehicles.
Ford Motor Company
According to Pete Bigelow, the Willow Run facility could be open for its first phase of testing as soon as the end of 2017.

The Next Idea

Start talking about Willow Run and chances are pretty good that images of Rosie The Riveters building B-24 bombers in World War II come to mind.

But there are big plans being cooked up to transform the old factory grounds near Ypsilanti into a highly advanced proving ground for autonomous and connected vehicles.

Pete Bigelowspells it all out in his story for Car and Driver.

Bigelow told us this push is being led by the American Center for Mobility, a Michigan nonprofit that wants to turn this old 355-acre patch of land into something positive for our economy.

“This is a way for a nonprofit company to take all that work done by the automakers, by the suppliers, and kind of entrench the research and development portion of the auto industry here in Southeast Michigan,” he said.

“The leaders from the American Center for Mobility really envision this being the national playground, if you will, where all this testing will take place.”

Listen to our conversation below for more.


The Next Idea is Michigan Radio’s project devoted to new innovations and ideas that will change our state.

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