By David Hagy, Programmer Analyst, State of Michigan
Recently Gov. Snyder signed a legislation allowing autonomous vehicles on the state roads. This legislation is the first comprehensive set of regulations for autonomous vehicles in the US. The law is wide ranging and covers many different aspects of the autonomous driving technology - including allowing autonomous vehicles to drive on Michigan streets and highways without a human driver.
Another aspect is allowing self-driving ride-sharing services on state roads and autonomous vehicle testing on state roads. One requirement of the law is that the vehicle must be from an approved car manufacturer so this caveat can prevent startups in this space from testing their driver-less vehicles on Michigan streets without getting a major automaker to support them.
With the new legislation in place and the combination of the big four automakers based in Michigan it will make Michigan roads the place for companies to test their autonomous driving systems for years to come. Since this legislation is the farthest reaching in the country, Michigan is ahead of the other states with autonomous driving laws on states roads. So, what does this mean for the state's automotive industry?
This means that in the race to build a fully autonomous vehicle fleet, companies based in Michigan will have an advantage over companies based in other states who must go through red tape to get autonomous vehicles on public roads. This advantage could lead to the big car manufacturers based in Michigan gaining a lead over autonomous developers elsewhere in the country. If the advantage becomes very significant it could also lead to companies striving towards autonomous vehicle technology to move their development and testing to Michigan and become an approved manufacturer to take advantage of the ability to test on public roads.
On the public side, there may be advantages and disadvantages to this legislation. You are guaranteed to see more autonomous vehicles being tested on public roads and these may cause distractions during your daily commute. A possible advantage would be the increase in autonomous ride sharing services available to Michigan citizens from the new legislation, which can increase competition in existing ride sharing services and offer better services to riders.
Overall the autonomous vehicle legislation recently passed will lead to interesting times for Michigan drivers and businesses. This will hopefully improve the automotive sector in Michigan as that is an important part of the Michigan economy, as well as give Michiganders a sneak peek at the future of autonomous driving and ride share services.
You can find out more information about the legislation at: http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277-57577-318728--,00.html