Michigan Has Approved Automakers to Start Testing Self-Driving Cars

By Jacob Brown | December 19, 2013
With the exception of just one state representative, Michigan passed its first set of laws pertaining to starting to test autonomous cars on its roads. This is a much bigger deal than you think it is. Before Michigan's passage, only California, Nevada, and Florida let self-driving cars test on their roads. Michigan saw that its tax and testing dollars were going to other states, so it decided to act quickly. On top of that, Michigan is perhaps the largest testbed for next-generation automotive technologies in the U.S., with California and the Southwest following. Under the new laws, a "driver" would have to be behind the steering wheel at all times, and all manufacturers and upfitters like Google would have to carry M plates on their cars. To you and me, that means it's a manufacturer-owned car. All automakers use such plates already for testing their prototype vehicles. Already, automakers are speculating that they should be able to get autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles into public hands by 2020. Google has been a fast mover in the segment, while General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota, and Ford have all been quickly on the tech giant's tail, among a slew of other automakers. While we may never have a true self-driving car, there are benefits to the technology existing. If a car can think and actively plan for stoplights, traffic, and what's ahead of it, it could ultimately make the roads safer. Sure, it would promote driving laziness, but many drivers really don't want to participate with the act of driving a car; they just want to get where they want to go and have done with it. This is a good step towards making roads safer and making the technology more widespread. Source: The Detroit News