The Michigan Department of Transportation is dipping its toe in the waters of self-driving cars.
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Technically called autonomous vehicles (hey, they'll be autonomous when they gas up themselves and pay for it), Nevada has already made them legal and issued a license to Google to operate one in the state. I hear that New York is looking at the question.
A notice from MDOT just landed in my inbox that announces that the state is issuing a survey to manufacturers involved in making autonomous cars and the technology that goes into them. The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor is MDOT's partner.
Believers in self-driving cars, and Google is the leader in the movement, claim that crashes can be drastically reduced when the task of driving is turned over to technology. Certainly, cars that run themselves won't spend time fiddling with a phone or feel road rage.
Why a survey? I'm not clear. In the release, Michigan Transportation Director Kirk Steudle is quoted: "This survey will play a pivotal role in determining what autonomous vehicle and robotics manufacturers need as a platform to further develop, test and deploy this technology."
The release implies that southeast Michigan would be a perfect place to research and develop autonomous vehicles. But it doesn't say Michigan is seriously looking at making them legal the way Nevada did.
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