July 2012 Archives

Self-Driving Cars In Michigan?

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The Michigan Department of Transportation is dipping its toe in the waters of self-driving cars.

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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MDOT Explains Speed Rules In Construction

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Are Michigan's laws really that hard to understand regarding speed limits in road construction?


The Michigan Department of Transportation has produced a quick YouTube video explaining the question. The implication is that people don't understand the signs that say the speed limit is 45 mph when workers are present.

In the video, a Michigan State Police lieutenant says they get a lot of questions about it, and I believe that. But I also believe many drivers just don't care; they are only interested in going the speed they want to go. When I lower my speed to 60 in construction zones, it's not unusual for me to be tailgated through the construction zone or, if there are two lanes, passed by drivers doing 70.

And never mind the whole 45-when-workers-are-present issue.

What's new for me in the video is trooper's explanation that even when workers are present, we don't have to slow from 60 to 45 if a concrete barrier separates traffic from the workers. News to me, and good to know.

I notice that MDOT is getting more creative in their YouTube productions. I hope the trend continues.

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Olympic Traffic Jam Is 32 Miles Long

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Short On Funds, MDOT Looks For Groups To Adopt Welcome Centers

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The Michigan Department of Transportation is pretty open about it: they don't have enough funding to fully operate all the rest areas -- they call them welcome centers -- in the state.

How about adopting one?

In a move modeled after the Adopt-A-Highway program, MDOT hopes that tourism groups will step up and support their local welcome centers. The Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau is the first to sign on.

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Low Gas Prices, Woo Hoo! Why It Won't Last, Boo Hoo.

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I opened my Gas Buddy app this morning and scouted around. The lowest price I found was $3.17 at some stations in Holland. Across the board, prices were in the $3.30-3.40 range in West Michigan.

Woo hoo!

I opened my Gas Buddy email this morning, and Patrick DeHaan, petroleum analyst out of Chicago, is saying gas prices are heading up significantly due to the "largest single-day jump (in oil prices) in recent memory."

Boo hoo.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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