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.