With the stroke of his pen, Michigan governor Rick Snyder bestowed upon Michigan a full suite of regulations regarding the testing, use and eventual sale of self-driving cars.
Michigan became the first state in the US to enact laws of this magnitude, and it's been a long time coming. It will allow vehicles that lack steering wheels or any type of human control. It will also permit automakers and tech companies to operate driverless ride-sharing services. The law even permits the sale of autonomous cars, provided they've passed tests and certifications.
That's not all! It also establishes the Michigan Council on Future Mobility. This wing of the Michigan Department of Transportation will work to develop future policies and industry standards, and it will be in charge of regulating connected vehicle networks and data sharing.
Michigan's legislature didn't do this alone. In order to ensure the bill actually did something, it relied on some industry help. Companies including General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Google, Toyota, Uber and Lyft all contributed to the law's crafting. With many of these companies at the forefront of autonomous-car development, that's the kind of help you'd want in this situation.
Right now, there is a light national framework in place, but the issues of licensure and regulation are still left largely to individual states. Only a few states currently permit autonomous-vehicle testing, and Michigan's new law makes it one of the friendliest states in that regard. As a new-ish Michigander, I'm looking forward to seeing Google's gumdrop car out here for some proper winter testing.