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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wants Michigan to be at the forefront of this technology

Michigan could be the next U.S. state to employ regulations in favor of autonomous vehicles -- and it could do so as soon as this week. 

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is pushing for autonomous vehicle licensing regulations in the state of Michigan, which would allow companies to test drive these cars on public roads. Snyder made the decision after spending some time with Google and its autonomous vehicle. 

“They took me out on a California freeway, and showed me how it worked,” Snyder said. “When you’re sitting in that vehicle, you can see how it’s analyzing all these decisions much like you would as a normal driver. And it’s able to do it faster and better than many of us could as human drivers.”

Snyder believes autonomous vehicles are the future of the auto industry, and without implementing Michigan's own set of regulations for these cars, the state could fall behind.

According to Phil Callihan, executive director of the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, approval for autonomous licensing in Michigan could pass as soon as this week. 

“I don’t see why there should be a lot of obstacles, period,” Snyder said. “It’s more communicating to the public about their fears and concerns about having an autonomous vehicle driving around.”

While Snyder would love to make Michigan the leader in self-driving cars (quickly), he may have to wait about a decade or so before these advanced cars arrive. 

According to Christian Schumacher, head of Continental Automotive's Advanced Driver Assistance Systems for the NAFTA region, autonomous cars will likely arrive in 2025. Many other auto industry experts have made the same prediction. 

Why so late? Mainly because there are ongoing discussions as to what would happen if the technology were to fail. 

"If one accident happens as a result of automation," Schumacher said. "Then we're having a totally new discussion."

However, autonomous vehicles have the potential to save lives by eliminating distracted driving (such as those who can't put their phones down while driving) and could taxi those who are no longer able to drive. 

Autonomous vehicles use an array of sensors to detect not only their position, but the position of cars around them. For instance, Google's self-driving car uses a Lidar, which is a rotating sensor on the roof that scans more than 200 feet in all directions for a map of the car's surroudings; a position estimator sensor that helps locate its location on a map; four radar sensors to identify the position of distant objects, and a video camera to detect traffic lights as well as moving objects like pedestrians. 

Just last October, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it was getting ready to create performance standards and regulations for the driverless cars through an extensive research project over the next 2-3 years.

Sources: The Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News

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Maybe it'll take some of my road rage away
By BRB29 on 4/17/2013 1:09:03 PM , Rating: 2
I really want to see these vehicles be able to tackle some of the craziest streets in DC. I've lived here for years and still can't figure out who in their right minds put 20+ traffic lights in a traffic circle.

RE: Maybe it'll take some of my road rage away
By Shig on 4/17/2013 1:44:09 PM , Rating: 2
The main application for this 1st generation technology are fleet applications and helping disabled people get around, which will be significant with our aging population.

RE: Maybe it'll take some of my road rage away
By nafhan on 4/17/2013 3:42:52 PM , Rating: 2
The main applications will be whatever makes money and whatever people can afford. I doubt it'll be limited to fleet applications unless the initial cost is prohibitive. This will be VERY desirable to commuters; I know people who paid an extra $10K to get a hybrid so they could go in the HOV lanes. I wouldn't underestimate what people might pay for this.

That said... Long haul truck drivers and anyone else who gets paid to drive a vehicle should be nervous about this tech.

RE: Maybe it'll take some of my road rage away
By Shig on 4/17/2013 5:15:48 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think the technology is ready for Chicago rush hour yet.

By nafhan on 4/18/2013 9:35:39 AM , Rating: 2
Uhm, if it's not ready for driving in traffic, than it's utility for disabled or fleet applications will be pretty limited, too. I was making the assumption that commercial adoption will be precluded by the ability to drive in typical road conditions. I don't think that's an unreasonable assumption.

Anyway, why do you feel like they aren't ready for that?

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