[nfbmi-talk] Michigan considers self-driving car tests
dangarcia3 at hotmail.com
Sat Feb 16 08:18:13 CST 2013
In case you did not see this in the local news today.
Michigan considers self-driving car tests
Snyder wants state to be leader for emerging automated technology
By David Shepardson Detroit News Washington Bureau
Sometime soon, that person in the car next to you may not actually be doing
the driving. That's because bipartisan
legislation on a fast track through the Michigan Statehouse would allow
testing of self-driving cars on public roads.
In his State of the State address last month, Gov. Rick Snyder called for
Michigan to join California, Florida and Nevada in
allowing self-driving vehicle research on the state's streets and highways.
The Senate Transportation Committee had a hearing last week on a bill that
would allow just that. It plans another
hearing next week, with a vote planned before the end of February.
State Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, introduced the legislation Feb. 7. "My
measure would help ensure that research and
development expenditures and taxes related to automated vehicles stay in
Michigan," he said.
Kowall said auto supplier Continental, which has been working on autonomous
vehicle research, had considered moving
some testing from its facility in the Upper Peninsula to Nevada. But Kowall
said he assured Continental the state was
moving fast to change laws that would allow the company to do testing here.
Last week, Google Inc., which has extensively tested autonomous vehicles in
other states, testified at a standing-room-only
hearing of the Senate Transportation Committee. General Motors Co. will
testify Tuesday. GM and other automakers want
assurances that they don't face liability if Google or another company
modifies one of their vehicles to operate
The Michigan bill would require a driver to be in the driver's seat at all
times during testing to take over in the case of
emergency. Other states also require this.
Driverless cars use video cameras, radar sensors, laser rangefinders and
detailed maps to monitor road and driving
conditions. Automated systems make corrections to keep the car in the lane,
brake and accelerate to avoid accidents, and
Under the state law, a manufacturer license plate would include an "M"
designation. The measure would permit
manufacturers and suppliers to use the M plate for automated vehicle
testing. "Upfitters" of automated vehicles, such as
Google, would be included.
Snyder noted in his address that Google has logged more than 300,000 miles
on U.S. roads with self-driving cars. He said
the nation eventually is "going to have vehicles that may not even have
people in them. I am not suggesting that now, so
don't get nervous, but California, Florida and Nevada have already passed
legislation on autonomous vehicles. They're
ahead of us, and aren't we the automotive capital of the world?"
Kowall said the committee is moving fast. "We're going to make some
adjustments to satisfy Google and GM's concerns,"
Kowall said. He called the bill a "bipartisan measure with no politics
To support his legislation, Kowall cited data from the Michigan Economic
Development Corp. that shows Michigan has
more than 330 companies in automotive research and development, spending
more than $11 billion annually.
Michigan Transportation Department Director Kirk Steudle supports the
research here: "Automated vehicles will make
our roads safer and our vehicles more fuel efficient. The trucking industry
estimates up to a 20 percent fuel savings
when the accelerator is controlled with automation."
Automakers already offer safety systems that are stepping stones to
self-driving cars: lane-departure warning and lane-
keeping assist systems, blind-spot warnings, forward-collision warning and
prevention, and adaptive cruise control.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in October that it
was preparing regulations setting performance
standards for fully autonomous cars.
NHTSA said it has had "numerous" talks with Google and other companies about
the technology. Google has predicted the
vehicles could be available to consumers within a decade.
NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said driverless cars could be a "game
changer," allowing the blind and senior
citizens who can no longer drive safely to use cars. Automation could have
other benefits, including cutting some of the
$100 billion in annual congestion costs and reducing fuel use. He hopes the
technology could one day save "thousands of
But NHTSA needs to make sure such vehicles are effective and reliable - and
that consumers will have confidence in
them and their features, including ensuring security of software so hackers
can't interfere with a driverless vehicle.
dshepardson at detnews.com
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