Car Industry

Michigan could soon legalize fully driverless cars

Bills involving autonomous vehicle legislation could land in the state Senate as soon as next week.

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Google and other companies have a number of autonomous vehicles on public roads already, but by law, they must include a driver ready to take control.

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Without a national framework, some states like California and Michigan have taken the lead and drafted up regulations for testing autonomous vehicles on public roads, albeit with drivers standing by in the front seat. But Michigan's about to take it one step further and address a bill that could allow cars without drivers on public roads.

The state Senate's Economic Development and International Investment Committee is currently holding a public hearing on its autonomous vehicle bills, which includes allowing cars without drivers. Currently, the state permits autonomous-vehicle testing, but only if someone is behind the wheel. Committee chair Sen. Ken Horn told The Detroit News that the goal is to "put Michigan at the forefront" of self-driving development.

Automakers, suppliers and folks within the state government have all expressed their support, and many of them will be at today's public meeting to voice their opinions.

Along with updating the requirements for humans in self-driving cars, the bills would also permit auto manufacturers to operate a network of on-demand autonomous ridesharing vehicles, which I'm sure the taxi companies will just love.

If Senate Bills 995-998 make it out of committee, they will head to the Senate, then the House, then to Governor Rick Snyder's desk for signing. Senate voting could begin as early as next week.