The law would make Michigan the first state in the U.S. to allow autonomous vehicles with no one inside.
Michigan’s senate has approved a bill that would allow truly driverless cars to test on public roads, TheDetroitBureau.com reported. Before cars hit the streets with no one at the wheel, the legislation still needs to pass through the House of Representatives there. Governor Rick Snyder reportedly supports the measure, though, so expect him to sign it into the law, if the proposal arrives on his desk.
If Michigan passes this law, it would make the state the most permissive place in the United States for publicly evaluating autonomous tech. The state's current rules follow the model of places like California by mandating a person be behind the wheel and able to take control immediately in case of an emergency. This update would end that requirement and would allow driverless vehicles on the road with no one inside or without the ability of an occupant to steer or brake.
Google could be among the first companies to take advantage of the new rules if the bill passes. The company has been working on driverless pods but was unhappy when California's rules mandated a steering wheel and pedals in them. However, the tech giant recently set up an office near Detroit specifically for autonomous vehicle evaluations. Since Google reportedly wants to create an on-demand service using these little cars, Michigan could suddenly become the only place in the U.S. that allows the firm to publicly test them.
This law could rapidly make Michigan a very popular spot for autonomous vehicle testing – at least until another state catches up. This measure might not be the end of the innovative regulations there, either. The legislature is also evaluating a bill that would allow experiments with tightly spaced convoys of self-driving commercial vehicles. Another measure would even allow trials of on-demand ridesharing services for driverless cars.