Rebirth of the Motor City

Detroit, Michigan once was the hub for industry in the 20th century. The place where Ford revolutionized modern day production, where GM car's like the 64 Impala were the envy of peers, and much more. It has been a while since Detroit has been the subject of conversation. A city that was left with a population of 700,000 people, less than half the amount back in the booming 50's. In the past couple of years, Detroit has taken another approach towards building up the city again. Have you ever thought of buying a house for only $1000? This was the reality for Antjuan Wyatt and his wife. They were able to buy a 1500 square meter house for just $1000 in the city of Detroit in 2014 through a program by the Detroit Land Bank. Since the launch of an incentive program to move people into the midtown area of Detroit started 5 years ago, the management has said that it has been a great success and the incentives will most likely continue on after this pilot program ends. Detroit is coming upon a revival where the economy and manufacturing industry is beginning to take off again.

The technological and innovation that has been revolutionizing our world the past few years have been changing Detroit as well. Manufacturers are changing and adapting to the newer technologies and making use of new machinery. After city was forced to declare bankruptcy two years ago, Detroit was at its lowest point. The federal bailout of GM and Chrysler definitely helped save the auto industry from irreversible fates, and now the surviving automakers including Ford and the foreign competitors that built American factories are thriving. This is good for the supply chain producers, and other manufacturers still residing in Detroit. An example of this is Prism Plastics, who uses leading-edge technology and makes use of the increase of automation in manufacturing. Prism Plastics shows us that the jobs that were lost in the manufacturing industry aren't coming back. Automation will disrupt all industries creating a need for the realization of newer and changed world.

Just because manufacturing will be done with less people and more robots, doesn't mean that jobs are just gone. Someone will have to be the ones to make these parts, that make up these autonomous machines. The Motor City has become the place for cars once again. Michigan Department of Transportation has installed 17 sensors and cameras along areas of I-96 and I-696. It uses data gathered from connected and autonomous vehicles and sensors and converts it into usable information at a "data warehouse" and beams it back to the cars. Traffic updates and construction updates can also be relayed to warn drivers of these occurrences and also notify them of how far away they are from their current position.

Ford will be testing its autonomous cars in Mcity. Mcity, a controlled environment designed for the testing of connected and automated vehicle technologies has opened just last summer. Mcity was designed and developed by the University of Michigan’s interdisciplinary MTC, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

"An autonomous vehicle creates the maps while driving the test environment in favorable weather, with technologies automatically annotating features like traffic signs, trees and buildings. When the vehicle can’t see the ground, it detects above-ground landmarks to pinpoint itself on the map, and then subsequently uses the map to drive successfully in inclement conditions." - Alica Priddle from the Detroit Free Press

This is a crucial development in the industry, as these autonomous cars depend on cameras, radars, and sensors to read situations and act accordingly. Snow can cover these parts and affect the car's ability to deduce the correct plan of action. The way Ford plans on using 3D mapping of the car's surroundings during the non-snowy times to guide the car when there is snow.

We can see that Motor City is rising again from the ashes, adapting and evolving into something that is on a completely new level from where it used to be. It is incredibly exciting to see where the contributions of Detroit will take the automotive industry, and how our world will change in turn.


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