Michigan's Self-Driving Dream Is Now Just a Vote Away

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
michigans self driving dream is now just a vote away

If the House approves it, Michigan will become the first state to allow autonomous vehicles to drive on certain public roads, at any time, for any purpose.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the state Senate has unanimously approved four bills aimed at making Michigan the self-driving mecca of the U.S., giving consent for autonomous vehicles to operate on 122 miles of public roads, not just on closed courses during pilot projects.

After the 36-0 vote in the Senate, the bills move to the House for consideration. Automakers and tech developers have their fingers crossed, as they plan to turn the state into a proving ground for what they hope is the future of driving.

Lawmakers seem to share the same view. Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth), speaking to the Detroit Free Press, compared the legislation and burgeoning industry to the Cold War-era space race.

Naturally, the legislation is worded to protect the state’s automakers. Senate Bills 995 and 996 allow “on-demand automated motor vehicle networks,” but only if it involves a recognized automaker. That leaves Ford, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors in the clear, but keeps the likes of Google, Apple and other players out.

Ford and GM have their own autonomous vehicle operations in Michigan, while FCA has partnered with Google on a fleet of 100 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Top Japanese automakers have collaborated with Ford and GM on the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center and its Mcity testing facility.

The legislation, if passed by the House, would benefit the fledgling American Center for Mobility and its goal of turning the Willow Run airport into a self-driving tech hub.

On the safety front, one of the bills targets hackers, making it clear that anyone caught accessing or tampering with a self-driving vehicle’s electronic control systems will face serious consequences, including the potential for life in prison.

[Image: Volvo]

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  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Sep 08, 2016

    bill could backfire

  • V-Strom rider V-Strom rider on Sep 08, 2016

    I read somewhere that autonomous vehicles have a lot of trouble merging onto busy freeways and sometimes come to a complete halt at the end of the ramp, waiting for a big gap. Don't know if this is actual experience or someone's speculation but this could be interesting! Also the "playing chicken" possibilities sound like fun - until someone gets hurt, of course.

    • JimZ JimZ on Sep 10, 2016

      sheesh, I know of plenty of *people* who stop at the bottom of on-ramps. usually old people. but yeah, I'd wager highway merging is going to be one of the tougher nuts to crack. V2V communication would help that situation greatly.

  • Zipper69 I got the form letter from Kia a few weeks ago and booked a time for the software update.Took around 1 hr 15 mn and you get free nifty stickers on the front door windows telling the thieves you are protected.
  • Dave I also only support companies that don't steal my tax money because they are "too big to fail"
  • Da Coyote GM has been dead to me for years - since I want my car paint to stay on and things to fit. Matters not to me.
  • Spamvw My '02 Jetta Wagon is starting to look a little rough. Some of the plastics are degrading, rust is starting. BUT, show me another 21 year old daily driver that looks perfect.
  • Syke Sorry, off-roading holds no interest for me. Besides, vehicles like these will normally get used in traffic where they can push around two-wheeled (motorized and not) vehicles with impunity.