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Michigan House panels hear testimony on autonomous vehicles

Posted On Sunday, 27 March 2016 20:00 Written by
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A joint meeting of the Michigan House Committee on Commerce and Trade and House Committee on Transportation to learn more about self-driving vehicles.

State Rep. Joseph Graves, R-Argentine Township, who serves as chair of the Commerce and Trade panel, said the focus of the hearing was to begin a dialogue that will allow Michigan to maintain its status as the leader in automotive development and production.

“Michigan has, from the very beginning of the automotive age, been at the forefront of the automobile industry, and with automated vehicles close to being deployed commercially, we want to make sure we remain the nation’s leader in the technology,” Rep. Graves said. “We opened a dialogue so we can have ideas about specific requirements in place when the technology enters the public marketplace.”


The committees heard from representatives of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Michigan Secretary of State’s office (SOS) and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

MDOT reported it has worked with the SOS, and consulted with representatives from the automobile and technology industries to draft recommendations on the next steps in testing and safe deployment of autonomous vehicles. The department stressed the first priority is public safety.

MDOT officials said there is no need for the occupants of automated vehicles to undergo special training to operate their vehicles, nor was there any need for the state to regulate what types of technology are included in self-driving vehicles.

“Instead, MDOT recommends the Legislature look at things such as amending laws that prohibit texting in non-automated cars, which is a safety issue, but might not be a problem in automated vehicles,” Rep. Graves said. “Additionally, self-driving cars will enable people who are currently restricted from driving because of physical challenges to take advantage of the new technology and be able to travel again.”

Although no more joint committee meetings are planned on automated vehicles, Rep. Graves said legislation regarding the new technology will receive oversight during committee hearings on the proposed bills.


-- Press release courtesy of Rep. Graves

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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