ESD Sets New Tours Of UM Autonomous Car Test Center, Leader Dogs’ Tech

SOUTHFIELD — The Engineering Society of Detroit is looking forward to spring with four fantastic members-only tours between now and May.

Included are newly scehduled tours of the technology behind Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester and a visit to the University of Michgian’s Mobility Transportation Center, or M-City, a national center for the testing and development of autonomous and connected vehicles.

All four ESD tours run from 2 to 4 p.m. on their respective dates.

Kicking off the series of events will be a tour Wednesday, March 4 at the new Detroit Medical Center Cardiovascular Institute, better known as the DMC Heart Hospital.

The heart hospital tour will feature information on its high-tech medical treatment features from DMC cardiac experts — and information on the unique engineering touches of the building itself from engineers from Harley Ellis Devereaux, designers of the 216,000-square-foot, $78 million project.

Then, on Thursday, March 12, it’s a tour of the Michigan Cyber Range, Michigan’s training center for cyber security. The Cyber Range is a joint effort of Merit Network Inc. — Michigan’s original internet service provider — and Michigan state government. It offers training in the latest techniques in cybersecurity.

On the tour, ESD members will get a chance to tour the facilities, hear real-life stories of battles with hackers, and observe an exercise in the Cyber Range’s virtual community, Alphaville, where the infrastructure is always under attack, from its power grid to its water system — even the library. (Good thing Alphaville exists only in the memory banks of the Cyber Range. It’s where Cyber range students hone their skills at defending against cyberattacks from the bad guys.)

On Thursday, April 23, ESD is offering an exclusive members-only tour of both the University of Michgian Michigan Transportation Research Institute and its new Mobility Transformation Center, home of the M City autonomous vehicle testing area.

M City is being built under the auspices of the Mobility Transformation Center, a partnership with industry and government to lay the foundations for a commercially viable ecosystem of connected and automated mobility. A key goal of the UM initiative, which involves researchers from a wide range of disciplines across campus, is to implement a connected and automated mobility system on the streets of southeastern Michigan by 2021.

Occupying 32 acres at UM’s North Campus Research Complex, M City simulates the complexities vehicles encounter in urban and suburban environments. It includes four lane-miles of roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, sidewalks, benches, simulated buildings, street lights, and obstacles such as construction barriers.

Roadway construction was completed in December, and the facility is expected to be operational in spring 2015, with a formal opening planned for July.

And on Thursday, May 14, join ESD for an exclusive, members-only tour of the Leader Dogs for the Blind training center in Rochester Hills. Leader Dogs is now a whole lot more than expertly trained dogs that give freedom and mobility to the visually impaired. That’s still its core mission, of course. But Leader Dogs now uses speaking GPS technology as part of its programs.

Leader Dogs clients receive and are instructed in the use of a free Trekker Breeze GPS that provides location, direction, street name, nearby points of interest and other information through verbal cues. This technology empowers clients to identify their current location and plan their own travel, rather than relying on others to fill this need. The Trekker Breeze allows people to travel further and explore new destinations and can be used in both cane-aided and guide dog-assisted travel.

Our tour will include video and Q&A with Leader Dogs staff on the nonprofit’s use of GPS technology, a tour of the residential center where clients train with their guide dogs, and — weather and construction progress permitting — a tour of the new Canine Development Center, now under construction.

The cost for all ESD tours is $25 for ESD Members; non-members can join ESD for $75 (a 25 percent discount) and attend the tour for free. (This offer is for new, first-time members only.)

Register online in the Upcoming Events section at, or call (248) 353-0735 ext. 222 to register by phone. Questions? Contact Matt Roush, ESD Director of Communications and Public Relations, at (248) 353-0735, ext. 112, or

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