Autonomous or self-driving cars have been a big topic in the tech and auto industry in the past few years. With the big three (GM, Ford and Chrysler) all being located in the Metro-Detroit area, it shouldn't be a big surprise to see Michigan leading the way on comprehensive state-wide self-driving regulations. On Friday, Michigan's Governor, Rick Snyder signed four bills into law, that regulate the testing, development and even the sale of autonomous vehicles. The biggest part of today's announcement is the fact that Michigan is the first State to legalize self-driving, ride-sharing vehicles, as you can see from the picture below, they are far ahead other States in autonomous vehicles right now.
On the surface, everything looks great, but taking a closer look at these bills, only motor vehicle manufacturers are able to operate self-driving cars in the State. This means companies like Google, Uber, Lyft and even Apple, won't be able to launch their own self-driving cars in the State. This effectively puts GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler in the driver's seat (no pun intended). However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does see Google as an auto maker, but Michigan's Department of Transportation haven't yet clarified whether they agree on that fact.
Another important tidbit of news out of Governor Synder's office today includes who will be liable when driver-less cars get into an accident. These new bills require automakers to take full liability for accidents, when the car is driving itself and gets into an accident, in which it was found at fault. On top of that, Michigan is the first State that allows autonomous vehicles on their public roads without having a driver in the car. Other States require these autonomous cars to have a driver inside, in case something happens and the driver needs to take over.
All of this news, coming out of Dearborn, Michigan; is a pretty big deal for the auto industry. It's a big step forward for autonomous vehicles, which appear to be getting closer and closer to reality, every single day. With the help of Ford, GM and Chrysler, Michigan is going to play a big part in autonomous cars, and Google has already figured that out, and has bought an area of land in Novi, Michigan (about 20 miles North of Detroit), to test their vehicles and be closer to their partners.