News Roundup: Waymo Gets Patent For Exterior Airbags On Self-Driving Cars, Ford to Test ‘Cellular-V2X’ Tech in San Diego and More

Jennifer van der Kleut


Waymo granted patent for exterior airbags

Google’s self-driving car spinoff company, Waymo, has been granted a patent for an airbag system that would be located on the outside of a car. Since self-driving cars are outfitted with sensors, cameras, radar and lidar on the outside of the car, Waymo engineers argue that the car itself can predict an accident even sooner than a human driver can (or can’t, if he or she is distracted). The concept of exterior airbags could protect passengers in the vehicle from an impact, as well as “reduce the likelihood of severe injuries or damage to objects such as pedestrians, bicyclists, animals, other vehicles, or simply inanimate objects.” Read more from Silicon Beat.


Mcity autonomous vehicle testing ground gets big investment from automakers, corporations

Mcity, the University of Michigan’s testing ground for autonomous vehicles, has received a total of $11 million in funding from 11 different companies, both corporations and automakers. Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Honda all contributed about $1 million each, and other corporations like State Farm Insurance, Verizon, LG and others. Mcity is a 32-acre man-made “city” where companies can conduct research and test autonomous vehicles. The hub offers a number of varied conditions for vehicles to test in, such as different road conditions, four-lane highways, high-pedestrian streets featuring fake, mechanical pedestrians, and much more. Read more from


Ford partnering with AT&T, Qualcomm and Nokia to test ‘cellular-V2X’ technology

Ford Motor Co. announced this week that it has formed a partnership with Qualcomm, AT&T and Nokia to test cellular modems that can connect vehicles to each other and to roadside infrastructure to help better navigate in bad weather or construction zones. “Cellular-V2X” technology, as it is called, aims to connect vehicles with traffic lights, roadside beacons and other vehicles on the road to share real-time information about driving conditions. It’s meant to improve safety, as well as help speed up the deployment of self-driving vehicles. Testing is scheduled to take place in San Diego, California before the end of the year. For testing, Ford vehicles will be outfitted with Qualcomm hardware powered by AT&T’s 4G LTE cellular network and Nokia’s computing technology. Read more from Automotive News.

Image: Rendering of self-driving minivan with exterior airbags by Waymo

News Roundup: Tesla’s New Self-Driving Hardware to Debut This Month, Three Groups Get Green Light For Testing Driverless Cars in Ontario, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A look at some of the biggest headlines to come out of the driverless and connected-car industry over the past week:

Elon Musk says Tesla will roll out new self-driving feature before the end of the year

After announcing that all cars made after Oct. 19 would feature all-new self-driving hardware, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said this week that the company would gradually start activating the new capability “in about three weeks.” However, there still appears to be much confusion and speculation over just how “autonomous” the new feature will be, including whether a driver will still be expected to keep eyes on the road, or hands on the steering wheel. Additionally, some Tesla owners are upset that the newer models hae been stripped of so many of their previous features, in favor of the new hardware. Read more from Computer Business Review.

Three groups get licenses to test driverless cars in public in Ontario

Ontario’s Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca pulled up to a press conference recently in the “Autonomoose”–a self-driving Lincoln MKZ hybrid sedan–to announce to reporters that three groups have been granted permission to test their driverless prototypes on public roads in the province. The University of Waterloo’s Centre for Autonomous Research will test the MKZ starting early next year; Erwin Hymer Group is the second, and QNX, a division of Waterloo’s BlackBerry, will develop vehicle software in association with its test of automated features of a 2017 Lincoln. Read more from

Construction begins on American Center for Mobility in Michigan

Progress on the new American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan is moving quickly. Just months after the sale of the old 330-acre Willow Run test site was finalized, construction on the ACM has already broken ground. A ceremonial first dig by officials including Governor Rick Snyder was conducted last week. ACM will be a site for testing autonomous and connected-car vehicle technology, and is expected to be open for business by this time next year. Read more and see photos on Detroit Free Press.

News Roundup: MIT Rolls Out a Driverless Scooter, Mich. Gets a New Automated Vehicle Test Site, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A look at some of the most interesting headlines to come out of the driverless, connected-car world this week.

MIT rolls out a driverless scooter

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a self-driving mobility scooter, and the systems and algorithms that power it could have positive implications for other types of driverless vehicles as well. So far, it is said the scooter works well both outdoors and indoors. The new scooter made its public debut in April when more than 100 people were invited to take it for a spin as part of a test of the software. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the safest, test-riders ranked the scooter’s safety on average between 3.5 to 4.6. Read more about MIT’s driverless scooter from


Willow Run site in MI has been purchased for a new driverless vehicle test site

The news has been expected for nearly a year, and news outlets are reporting this week that it has finally happened–The former World War II bomber factory known as Willow Run in Michigan’s Ypsilanti township has been purchased by the new American Center For Mobility (ACM) for $1.2 million. Plans are to transform the 335-acre site into a state-of-the-art driverless vehicle test site. Conceptual plan designs have already been finalized, and construction could begin before the end of the year, according to Michigan state officials. The ACM anticipates the site opening for business in December, 2017. Read more from the Detroit News.


Texas A&M engineering students transform Ford F-150 into self-driving truck

Using only the on-board GPS system that came with the truck, a group of Texas A&M students have transformed an old 2005 F-150 Ford truck into a self-driving one. As the head chair of the engineering department, Professor Reza Langari explains, they devised a way to communicate a set path to the on-board GPS system and use that to help the truck navigate itself. With more than $100,000 invested in the vehicle, engineers will soon equip the truck with cameras and other devices which will allow the truck to drive even more fully on its own, Langari said. Read more about Texas A&M’s self-driving truck from NBC 5.

Image: MIT’s driverless scooter prototype, courtesy of MIT.


News Roundup: More Crashes For Google Driverless Cars, Michigan Driverless Car and Hacking Laws Move Forward, and More

Michigan laws that would allow driverless cars on public roads for any reason, address car hacking move forward in House

A law that recently passed unanimously in the Michigan state Senate has been allowed to move forward in the House. The law would allow driverless cars to be driven on public Michigan roads for any reason, not just while being tested. At the same time, another bill moved forward — one that would make hacking into the electronic systems of a vehicle a felony. The next step for the bills will be discussion on the House floor, before deciding if and when to vote. Read more about the two bills on Crain’s Detroit Business.

Google self-driving cars have three collisions in Arizona in August

Google has confirmed that its self-driving test cars were in three collisions in Chandler, Arizona, located in the Phoenix metro area, in August. In two of the accidents, the car was in manual mode, being controlled by a human driver at the time of the crash. One of those collisions involved a drunk driver who rear-ended the Google car, injuring one of its passengers and sending him or her to the hospital with a concussion, according to media reports. In the other, the Google driver was cited in the crash, though investigation suggests the driver of the other car actually ran a red light and hit the Google car while making a left turn. In the third accident, the car was in autonomous mode when it was rear-ended by a human-driven car that was stopped at an intersection. Read more about the collisions from the Associated Press on

Utah State University team places in national Autonomous Vehicle Competition

A team of engineering students from Utah State University (USU) took second place in last week’s Autonomous Vehicle Competition (AVC) in Colorado. Their vehicle, called the “USU Cruiser,” was the only one that completed the test course and made it all the way to the end. The team said the secret to their success was a “slow but steady” approach, and how quickly their robotic car was able to course-correct if it lost its orientation or got confused. The team said they hope to improve upon the Cruiser and enter it again in next year’s AVC. Read more about the USU Cruiser on the College of Engineering’s website.

News Roundup: Michigan Senate Passes Law Allowing Driverless Cars to Operate Without Humans, French City Debuts World’s First Driverless Bus Service, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A roundup of recent headlines in the driverless and connected-car industries.

Michigan State Senate Unanimously Passes Bill That Would No Longer Require a Human to Be in A Driverless Car

Driverless cars are moving full speed ahead in Michigan, where the state Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would no longer require a human to be in an autonomous car being tested on public roads. Backers touted the bill as “necessary” to keep Michigan ahead of the curve on rapidly advancing technology. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder reportedly supports the bill as well, which is on track to have full legislative approval by the end of the year. Other provisions in the bill include: allowing for public operation of driverless vehicles when they hit the consumer market; easing the “platooning” of autonomous commercial trucks traveling closely together at electronically coordinated speeds; help creating a facility to test autonomous and wirelessly connected cars at highway speeds at the site of a defunct General Motors plant; and allowing auto manufacturers to run networks of on-demand self-driving vehicles. Read more from the Associated Press and CBS Detroit.


Lyon, France Debuts World’s First Public Driverless Bus With Daily Service

Lyon, France launched this past weekend what is being called the world’s first driverless bus in its downtown Confluence area. The bus, which uses LiDAR radar technology and motion sensors to help it avoid accidents, can seat up to 15 passengers, and is now serving rides to the public, daily. Two shuttles run a 10-minute route with five stops. The shuttle was designed by French company Navya, and the design is set to undergo trials in Dubai soon as well. Read more about the new Navya shuttle buses from Travel+Leisure Magazine.


Volvo Teams Up With Autoliv to Develop Autonomous Car Software

Volvo Car Group and Autoliv, an automotive safety group, announced this week that they are forming a jointly-owned company to develop advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving systems. Volvo will bring to the table its know-how of decision-making software that determines how an autonomous car will react in different situations. Autoliv will bring expertise in sensor technology and computer vision systems. The two companies say they are committed to creating “a completely open, transparent environment for collaboration.” In a news conference, representatives said the new company, which has yet to be named, will initially have around 200 employees, and could grow to around 600 within two years. The company is set to begin work as early as next year. Read more about the collaboration from Associated Press and Crain’s Detroit Business.

Michigan Pushes Willow Run, UK Invests in CAV Efforts

Burney Simpson

The state of Michigan and the United Kingdom continue to put money into autonomous driving research with the belief that the investments will pay dividends.

The Michigan Strategic Fund will spend $1.2 million to purchase the 311 acre Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township where it plans to operate the American Center for Mobility (ACM).

Backers want the ACM to become a world center for the development and testing of connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology.

On Friday, Michigan politicos met with US Department of Transportation leadership to request the ACM be named a national testing and validation center, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, along with Rep. Debbie Dingell, met with DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx and Mark Rosekind, director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

acm1Peters told the newspaper that CAV technology should be standardized to ensure that these vehicles can ‘talk’ to each other using vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications.

Giving the ACM the authority to validate CAV technology could give it a competitive advantage over established test sites like the Va Tech Transportation Institute in Blacksburg, Va.

The ACM is a joint initiative of the University of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan, Ann Arbor SPARK, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Chief of the ACM project John Maddox told MLive that buying Willow Run will prove to be a milestone in CAV development.

“The ability to build out Willow Run with its deep historic innovative roots to now create a center to safely validate connected and automated technology is an incredible opportunity for not just the state of Michigan, but also our country,” Maddox said.

A massive factory on the Willow Run site became known during World War II as the Fortress of Democracy as workers churned out thousands of B-24 bombers. The factory later was used as a GM powertrain facility.


In the United Kingdom the government announced it would soon launch a competition for a $40 million grant for research and development of innovative connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

The money comes from the Intelligent Mobility Fund. In February the Fund awarded $26.5 million to a number of projects to promote driverless technology research.

There’s another $25 million fund that is helping to pay for driverless car projects in Greenwich and Bristol, and a joint project in Milton Keynes and Coventry.

Graphics by Ann Arbor Spark.

Driverless Tests Go Live in Virginia

Burney Simpson

Virginia has taken another step to on-road automated vehicles following the enactment of legislation supported by the Va Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI).

Automated vehicles now can carry standard license plates and operate on Virginia’s roads as long as the vehicle is being operated by an institution of higher learning as it conducts technology research.

“Conducting naturalistic data collection with a standard license plate — meaning the vehicle could not be easily identified from other vehicles on the roadway — allows us to perform a realistic comparison to other vehicles and traffic,” Myra Blanco, director of VTTI’s Center for Public Policy, Partnerships, and Outreach, said in a press release.

The new law also allows moving images to be viewed in a vehicle while an automated driving system is activated. Previously, the state had banned videos to be shown inside a moving vehicle.

A lead sponsor of the legislation was Del. Glenn Davis of Virginia Beach (See “Careful Steps on Driverless Laws for Tennessee, Virginia”).


VTTI offers important test operations for auto OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers, and others.

In the driverless arena, it launched last summer the Virginia Automated Corridors, 70 miles of roads in the northern and central parts of the state for the testing of automated and connected vehicles.

The VAC includes a segment of the congested Washington, D.C., Beltway, along with state routes, suburban and rural roads, and winding mountain lanes (See “Va Tech Leaves ‘Em Eating its Dust in the Race to be the Top Driverless Test Track”).

The VAC is a partnership between VTTI, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Transurban, and Here, the high-definition mapping business.

Virginia Tech also operates the 2.2 mile Virginia Smart Road, a closed-research facility near Blacksburg in southwest Virginia.

Blanco told Driverless Transportation last year that VTTI and the VAC offer a “one-stop shop” for autonomous car testing.


“We will do everything from A to Z. We provide license plates, insurance, the facilities, and so on,” said Blanco. “And we are an independent evaluator, something like Underwriters Laboratory. That’s key. We will facilitate the full process, and you will have an independent evaluator.”

Last October VTTI earned national visibility with a demonstration of automated and connected vehicles in Northern Virginia with Sen. Mark Warner, U.S. Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology Greg Winfree, Virginia state officials, Tier 1 auto suppler Continental, and others.

However, state competition for driverless testing dollars has gotten tougher since then.

Michigan last year opened its 32-acre Mcity testing facility near Ann Arbor, attracting Ford and other auto OEMs. In January, the state announced a 330-acre testbed for autonomous vehicles in nearby Willow Run.

California’s Silicon Valley area boasts GoMentum Station with tests from Daimler, Honda, and others.

East Coast DOT’s Get Ready for Connected & Automated Vehicles

East Coast transportation officials gathered this week near Baltimore to catch up with the latest in autonomous activity at the ‘Connected & Automated Vehicles: What States Need to Know’ conference.

The event was organized and led by the I-95 Corridor Coalition, a partnership of state departments of transportation and related agencies in the 16-state region from Maine to Florida. Roads in these states account for 16 percent of the nation’s road miles and 35 percent of vehicle miles traveled.

The conference was designed to explain the importance of connected and automated technology, update officials on activities in the sector nationwide, and help assist states in developing next steps, said Dr. Trish Hendren, executive director of the Coalition.

About 200 registered for the conference at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum, Md.

Much of the conference was devoted to officials from state DOTs and related agencies updating each other on activities within their borders.

Here are some highlights from the first day of the conference –


A number of state DOT officials stressed how connected technology may help save the agency some bucks. Virginia DOT’s Dean Gustafson noted that Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications could mean the elimination of various signs and traffic signals that cost as much as $1 billion to develop, install, maintain.

Joah Sapphire, who has worked on the New York DOT’s connected efforts for Global Dynamic Group, suggested that a DOT could look at individual line items and find savings. For example, information gathered through connected tech could help New York reduce the $417 million it spends annually on salt and sand to treat roads during bad weather.

New York is already testing driverless trucks to be used in work zones that could make the space safer for crews, said Sapphire.

Gustafson said that states have to work together so communication systems work across borders. He acknowledged that states can be very competitive, especially when they seek research dollars or revenues from technology.

“It will be hard to compete with Michigan and the auto industry there. And Silicon Valley and venture capital (in California),” said Gustafson, state operations engineer. 

(However, Virginia is no slouch, busy testing with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, expanding its testbed last year to include parts of Washington Beltway, the Federal Highway Administration working on parts of Virginia’s Connected Corridors, and more ongoing projects.)

Gregory C. Johnson, state highway administrator for Maryland, said that states should look to ways to monetize the V2I technology and the highway land they own. “I’m looking for a state to come up with that magic bullet (of monetization) so I can copy them,” said Johnson.


Gene Donaldson, TMC operations manager with the Delaware DOT, said he has insisted the state install information-gathering technology whenever it lays down highways. And he teased the crowd by saying a certain firm asked Delaware if it could run its autonomous vehicle across the state to Pennsylvania. (The answer was yes as Delaware law doesn’t forbid it, said Donaldson. He wouldn’t name the firm.)

However, he warned that schools aren’t training enough people today in technology already installed, like traffic signals. How do you take advantage of V2I technology if you don’t have staff ready to work with it, asked Donaldson.


Several officials gave reports of strong research they are doing on connected and autonomous technology.

Dr. Gene McHale of the FHWA talked about research conducted in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The FHWA is testing connected vehicle tech with the 5.9 GHz band at nearby air bases and labs, and on I-66 in Virginia. One finding — 22 percent fuel savings when fully automated ‘glide path’ systems are used so vehicles avoid stopping at intersections.

Mark Kopko, manager of advanced vehicle technology with the Pennsylvania DOT, said the state is operating three testbeds with more than 20 intersections equipped with DSRC technology around Pittsburgh. Keystone State’s jewel is Carnegie Mellon, a robotics and autonomous technology leader.

The Pennsylvania legislature could soon consider SB 1268 that will allow NHTSA Level 4 testing, said Kopko. If approved, Pennsylvania will have greater leeway in driverless testing, and it already has plans regarding truck platooning.


Adam Jonas, a transportation analyst with Morgan Stanley, woke up the crowd after lunch with a presentation on the changes coming to the transportation business.

The ‘shared autonomy’ industry will be led by giants like Apple and Google who develop driverless vehicles that offer personalized transportation services akin to what Uber and Lyft are doing today, Jonas predicted.

People worldwide now ride a total of 10 trillion miles annually, said Jonas, and at $1 a mile, the market for transporting people is $10 trillion.

That’s an intriguing figure but the real money comes when the ‘megafleet’ operators sell to advertisers and others the eyeballs of riders sitting in the driverless cars.

Increased safety and reduction in deaths and injuries that connected technology brings will encourage citizens to shift to driverless vehicles and give up some privacy, Jonas argued.

Also, Jonas predicted a public/private partnership between a city and business in 2018 or 2019 will set aside an area exclusive to operating connected and/or automated vehicles. He declined to name the city.


Several speakers suggested the state officials may want to leave comments for the Federal Communications Commission as it considers whether to open up the 5.9 GHz spectrum to Wi-Fi communications.

In brief, the federal government set this section of the spectrum aside in 1999 for transportation safety messages using Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC). Connected vehicle proponents want to keep this space for this use as the technology grows.

Telecommunications firms have asked the FCC to allow them to use at least part of the 5.9 band. These firms say they will use it to offer bandwidth for Wi-Fi as it surges in popularity.

“The wireless community is very vocal,” said Blair Anderson, deputy administrator with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Dr. Gummada Murthy, associate director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, is fighting to keep the band reserved for transportation-related uses.  

“We don’t want to share it unless you can prove that sharing it will not compromise safety,” said Murthy.

He’s holding a webinar on June 30 for state DOT and local officials that will encourage them to send official comments to the FCC on DSRC.


A number of these East Coast speakers attended last week’s ITS America 2016 conference in San Jose. General impression was the technology was impressive, the number of connected and autonomous projects was impressive, the conference was impressive. Etc.


HERE announced it had been selected by the North Carolina Department of Transportation to provide its real-time traffic data for the state’s roadways. North Carolina joins seven other East Coast states in using Here’s Real-time Traffic Services.

North Carolina DOT chose Here through the I-95 Corridor Coalition’s Vehicle Probe Project that is designed so states and others can purchase, validate and share data.


Interesting to see who is spending some money to catch the eye of East Coast transportation officials. Conference sponsors included Ch2m, HNTB, Inrix, Jacobs, National Energy Research Laboratory (NREL), and WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Exhibitors included Cambridge Systematics, CATT Lab from the University of Maryland, Consensus Systems Technologies, HERE, Inrix, Kapsch TrafficCom, Kimley-Horn, NREL, and Southwest Research Institute.

The I-95 Corridor Coalition addresses such major topics as alternative transportation system funding, freight supply chain, MAP-21, FAST Act implementation, tolling issues, and connected and automated vehicles.

Army to Test DSRC on Michigan’s I-69 in June

Burney Simpson

Michigan’s I-69 soon will become the first public highway to host a US Army test of the functionality of Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) with connected vehicles.

The late June demonstration of four line-haul trailers on Interstate 69 will be conducted by the US Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

“The radio testing is a necessary step before any future testing of driver-optional features on the vehicle can be conducted,” according to an Army spokesperson.

Reports earlier this year said the vehicles would be outfitted with LiDAR, radar, sensors, and other driverless equipment. A test will be conducted of Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) and Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) communications (See “Video-Army to Invade Michigan with Connected Trucks”).

DSRC is a medium- to short-range wireless communications capability that permits high-data transmission of communications-based safety information.

The Army and TARDEC have researched a variety of autonomous vehicle and robotic equipment applications (see “Army Robotics, Unmanned Tech on the March”). One recent concept is a ‘robotics vanguard’ that could be the first line of soldiers during an offensive maneuver.

In January, TARDEC demonstrated its Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System in Texas. The AMAS uses a programmable robotics kit, instead of a soldier, to drive a vehicle.

Michigan is in the midst of an aggressive push into autonomous vehicle research and development.

It is developing a 330-acre site that will be dedicated primarily to autonomous vehicle research and testing. The site is on the Willow Run ground where nearly 9,000 bombers were built during World War II, and near the 32-acre Mcity test bed that opened last year.

And Michigan state legislators are currently considering a series of bills that open up the state’s roads to driverless vehicles. One would allow cars to travel Michigan without a human driver in the vehicle, matching a law just enacted in Florida.

In May, Google announced it would open a driverless car development center in Novi, expanding its work into the Upper Midwest’s four-season climate.

“We’re the center of mobility and we’re not going to take that for granted,” MDOT Director Kirk Steudle told The Detroit News. “We’re going to continue to push that the way mobility gets framed in the future gets developed in Michigan.”

Steudle and TARDEC Director Dr. Paul Rogers are scheduled to speak at the June demonstration.

I-69 runs from Port Huron west to the state capitol of Lansing and south to Indiana.

Michigan Races to Open State to Automated Driving Systems

Burney Simpson

Michigan is seeking to stay ahead of the driverless competition with a bipartisan group of state legislators introducing bills that would allow auto OEMs to operate vehicles with automated driving systems on its roads.

A second proposal would allow for platooning of automated vehicles, where a group of two or more commercial trucks communicate wirelessly with each other to better move in tandem. The trucks typically are closely aligned, reducing drag and typically garnering better fuel economy.

The lead sponsor on each bill is state Sen. Mike Kowall, a Republican from White Lake. Kowall is the Senate’s Majority Floor Leader. Each bill has a number of co-sponsors.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the bills were crafted with the Michigan Department of Transportation and have the blessing of Gov. Rick Snyder.

Plans to open up Michigan roads to greater testing and operation of self-driving vehicles was driven by Florida recently loosening its regulations on the technology (See “Michigan Might Match Florida’s Driverless Rules”).

In April Florida allowed anyone with a driver’s license to operate an autonomous vehicle in the state.

Legislatures in California, Massachusetts, Tennessee and other states introduced bills in their spring sessions that opened their roads to autonomous vehicles for testing and other purposes.

Under one of the new Michigan proposals, S-996, the driver of the automated vehicle is an “automated driving system or any remote expert-controlled assist activity shall be considered the driver or operator of the vehicle.”

The bill language limits the operation of the automated vehicle to “a designated area within a municipality”; an “area maintained by a regional authority”; a university campus; a senior citizen campus; or any “geographic or demographic area that is similar” to those.

A second bill (S-995) creates certain definitions for “automated driving systems” and allows for platooning of commercial trucks on any road in the state.

The bill permits a company to operate the vehicle without a human driver, as long as an employee or contractor can monitor that driverless vehicle and take control of it as necessary.

The bill also creates the “Michigan Council on Future Mobility” that will make recommendations on state driverless policy by the end of March, 2017. The Council will continue to work on mobility issues and make recommendations on policy.

The Council will include 11 representatives named by the governor from the fields of business, technology, policy, and research. The Council will also include two state senators and two state representatives from each party.

The Secretary of State, the State Police and the state DOT will also be represented on the Council.

Both S-995 and S-996 put the liability for any accident on the shoulders of the manufacturer of the automated vehicle. However, that liability is removed if the vehicle has been modified in any way.


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