Autonomous Vehicles Now Legal on Michigan Roads

driverless ride-share vehicles

Michigan reached a new milestone this month in the evolution of autonomous driving. Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation that allows operation of autonomous vehicles on Michigan roads. Previously, the law only allowed testing of these vehicles by manufacturers.

All of the major U.S. auto manufacturers are actively pursuing self-driving vehicle technology, as well as competitors such as Uber, Google and Tesla.

Safety is a Top Priority

As part of the Michigan legislation, all safety requirements that pertain to the testing of autonomous vehicles will also apply to autonomous vehicle operation. The new law allows for automated vehicle platoons, where a group of vehicles travels together at electronically coordinated speeds.

The new legislation also outlines specific parameters for entities that wish to offer on-demand autonomous vehicle networks to the public. While these on-demand networks have yet to be defined, they could include a fleet of self-driving cars that are called upon by the customer via a smart phone. Some people believe that these networks may eliminate the need for individuals to own a personal vehicle in the future. This type of network could be especially beneficial in urban areas.

Michigan is one of a Few States leading this Effort

Michigan joins at least seven other states that have enacted laws related to autonomous vehicles, including Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, North Dakota, Tennessee and Utah. Washington D.C has also authorized the use of autonomous vehicles on its public roadways. The laws in each state vary. Some states allow full use of autonomous vehicles, while others have approved language to study the issue and make efforts to move toward full implementation.

Some states, such as Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, have been experimenting with this technology without any laws in place. Experts are predicting that more states will implement some form of legislation related to autonomous driving in the coming year.

High Profile Hits and Misses

It has not always been smooth sailing for companies trying to bring autonomous driving vehicles into the mainstream. Right now Uber seems to be getting the most attention for its pilot projects with autonomous vehicles. In September, they introduced a fleet of self-driving taxis on the streets of Pittsburgh. This pilot program included two Uber employees in the vehicle to monitor the vehicle’s performance and ease any concerns from customers.

While the Pittsburgh pilot went fairly smoothly, Uber was again in the news this month for a pilot program in San Francisco. In that case, a self-driving Uber car was caught on video as it appeared to run a red light on the city streets. Representatives from Uber insist that the vehicle was not part of the pilot project and the driver has been suspended pending further investigation.

Uber hit another roadblock when the city of San Francisco ordered them to remove the self-driving vehicles from the streets. The laws in California require a permit for the use of autonomous vehicles and Uber failed to attain the required approvals for its pilot project.

While significant progress has been made, experts caution that these autonomous vehicles still can’t handle normal traffic flow above speed limits, or make right turns on red, or comprehend the quirks of local driving laws and conventions. And there are other issues to address, such as insurance and liability for these types of vehicles.

Autonomous Driving Aids are Available Now

While fully autonomous vehicles may be years away, there are many new technologies that you can add to your vehicle to make it safer and easier to drive, such as:

  • A rear view backup camera system to alleviate the stresses of backing up.
  • Automatic park assist that will automatically move your vehicle into and out of parking spaces.
  • A multi-view camera expansion kit with a three-view mode multi-view camera to help you get in and out of tight spaces.

Your local Auto One franchise can help you research these autonomous driving technologies and select the ones that will work best for you. Call or visit us today.


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