Automakers can also evaluate vehicles without steering wheels or pedals and test road platoons.
Newly signed legislation makes Michigan the most permissive place in the country for testing autonomous vehicle technology. Company’s can now operate self-driving cars on the state’s public roads, even without someone inside. It’s also acceptable for models without a steering wheel or pedals to be there – a first in the country. According to Automotive News, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Google, Uber, and Lyft supported the law.
"We are becoming the mobility industry, shaped around technology that makes us more aware and safer as we’re driving," Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said at the signing at the Automotive Hall of Fame Museum. "By recognizing that and aligning our state’s policies as new technology is developed, we will continue as the leader the rest of the world sees as its biggest competition."
The legislation also specifically allows platoons of driverless vehicles to operate on the road. Volvo is already developing technology like this where someone is controlling the automobile in front of a convoy, and the models behind it follow autonomously.
At the same time, Snyder signed a law that cleared the way for automakers to operate on-demand autonomous vehicle networks in Michigan. Google is reportedly interested in using its driverless pods for such a business, and this legislation opens up a chance to implement the plan.
These laws are potentially just the beginning for Michigan being among the forward-thinking place in the country for developing autonomous technology. The newly created Michigan Council on Future Mobility aims to further this goal by appointing a panel of government and business leaders for making regulatory recommendations.
Michigan has been a base for autonomous testing even before this legislation. The MCity site at the University of Michigan has given automakers a place to test the tech. Google also built a research center in the state and partnered with FCA on self-driving vehicle development.
Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle begins testing at Mcity
Gov. Rick Snyder signs landmark legislation to allow operation of autonomous vehicles on Michigan roadways
New laws will ensure Michigan continues to be the world leader in autonomous, driverless and connected vehicle technology
Friday, December 9, 2016
Dearborn, MI – Flanked by a Ford Model-T on one side and a self-driving Fusion on the other, Gov. Rick Snyder today at the Automotive Hall of Fame Museum signed legislation that will continue Michigan’s legacy of being the world leader in automotive design, technology and production.
“Michigan put the world on wheels and now we are leading the way in transforming the auto industry,” Snyder said. “We are becoming the mobility industry, shaped around technology that makes us more aware and safer as we’re driving. By recognizing that and aligning our state’s policies as new technology is developed, we will continue as the leader the rest of the world sees as its biggest competition.”
Joined by bill sponsor Sen. Mike Kowall and mobility leaders from Ford and GM, Gov. Snyder signed Senate Bill 995, which allows operation of autonomous vehicles on Michigan roads where before only testing of these vehicles by manufacturers was permitted. All safety requirements that pertain to the testing of autonomous vehicles will apply to autonomous vehicle operation. The bill will allow for automated vehicle platoons, where vehicles travel together at electronically coordinated speeds, and authorizes on-demand autonomous vehicle networks. Additionally, the legislation creates the Michigan Council on Future Mobility within the Michigan Department of Transportation to make future recommendations on statewide policy recommendations that will keep Michigan ahead of the curve on regulatory issues that could impede new development. The bill is now PA 332 of 2016.
Gov. Snyder also signed three other bills sponsored by Sen. Kowall, Sen. Rebekah Warren, and Sen. Ken Horn, respectively, as part of the autonomous vehicles package:
SB 996 outlines specific parameters for entities that wish to offer on-demand autonomous vehicle networks to the public. It is now PA 333.
SB 997 recognizes the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run in statute and removes barriers to operating at the facility. It is now PA 334.
SB 998 exempts mechanics from any damages to vehicles that result from repairs, if the repairs were made in accordance with manufacturer specifications. It is now PA 335.
All of the bills were approved with strong bipartisan support in both chambers.
For more information on mobility in Michigan, please visit http://www.planetm.com/.