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

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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