Self-Driving Cars on Michigan Roads?

By: Fay Li Email
By: Fay Li Email

"If we build a car that's never envisioned to be an autonomous technology vehicle...We'd want to make sure that the person that changed the vehicle from what we certified and sold it as would be responsible,"

Daniel Frakes - General Motors.

Imagine cars going down the road, with no one behind the wheel. The technology is not quite there yet, but Ann Arbor company SoarTech is just one of many that's developing the technology.

"It's moving very rapidly, the technologies are coming together within the next couple of years," said Andrew Dallas, Vice President of federal systems at SoarTech.

SoarTech already tried the technology on robots, but a new senate bill would allow them to test it on the road.

"I don't want people to get confused, you're not going to see a car going down the street with nobody in it, or your dog sitting behind the wheel," said the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake.

Sen. Kowall says the idea is to test the driverless technology on the road but still have a driver behind the wheel as a backup. The legislation will also allow non-auto makers to get manufacturer plates to do the testing on public streets as well.

"It'll allow companies like Google, Continental and a variety of other small groups to go out and do testing on the cars," said Sen. Kowall.

Lawmakers say expanding testing will make sure Michigan leads changes in the auto industry and that investments into the industry stay in the state.

General Motors has already done testing but says the day when you can buy these self-driving cars is still far away and they expressed some concern over liabilities.

"If we build a car that's never envisioned to be an autonomous technology vehicle...We'd want to make sure that the person that changed the vehicle from what we certified and sold it as would be responsible," said Daniel Frakes from General Motors.

Sen. Kowall says they are fixing liability issues in the bill and SoarTech is looking forward to expanding their business into everyday cars that drive without a driver.


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