It's not enough to test self-driving cars in realistic conditions -- if they're going to avoid crashes, they need to handle nightmare scenarios. Toyota is about to address that. It's building a closed test facility at Michigan Technical Resource Park (below) that will pit autonomous cars against "edge case" scenarios that will challenge the technology's limits. It's planning to subject vehicles to clogged urban landscapes, slick roads and even a four-lane highway with fast entrance and exit ramps.
The facility will sit inside the park's existing oval track, and should enter service by October.
The results of the testing won't be available for sometime, but they could prove to be vital whenever they do arrive. Developers are determined to avoid another fatal self-driving car crash for as long as possible, and that means producing autonomous systems that are ready for life-threatening situations. Driverless cars may eventually go without manual controls, for that matter. If those hands-off vehicles are going to be truly trustworthy, they'll need to deal with dangerous situations.