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Transportation

Michigan Lets Autonomous Cars On Roads Without Human Driver (go.com) 166

Companies can now test self-driving cars on Michigan public roads without a driver or steering wheel under new laws that could push the state to the forefront of autonomous vehicle development. From a report on ABC: The package of bills signed into law Friday comes with few specific state regulations and leaves many decisions up to automakers and companies like Google and Uber. It also allows automakers and tech companies to run autonomous taxi services and permits test parades of self-driving tractor-trailers as long as humans are in each truck. And they allow the sale of self-driving vehicles to the public once they are tested and certified, according to the state. The bills allow testing without burdensome regulations so the industry can move forward with potential life-saving technology, said Gov. Rick Snyder, who was to sign the bills. "It makes Michigan a place where particularly for the auto industry it's a good place to do work," he said.
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Michigan Lets Autonomous Cars On Roads Without Human Driver

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09, 2016 @02:03PM (#53453413)

    With the rising number of idiots texting on their phones while behind the wheel, I have already seen hundreds of driverless cars on the road.

    • Cite your evidence that a self driving car is safer than the aggregate of all people who choose to text while driving?
      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Cite your evidence that a self driving car is safer than the aggregate of all people who choose to text while driving?

        Knock down your own straw men - he made no such claim.

  • >> Gov. Rick Snyder: "It makes Michigan a place where particularly for the auto industry it's a good place to do work," he said.

    Well duh - Michigan's economy IS the auto industry. Just happy there's a governor in place to clear the red tape for this.

    >> allows automakers and tech companies to...permits test parades of self-driving tractor-trailers

    Remember when the Teamsters were a force in elections? No? Guess I'm old...
    • Hmm....letting driverless cars go free in a State that seems to have frozen stuff on roads for 3/4 of the year....yeah, *BRILLIANT*.
      • Hmm....letting driverless cars go free in a State that seems to have frozen stuff on roads for 3/4 of the year....yeah, *BRILLIANT*.

        As opposed to idiot drivers... Tough call.

        • by Adriax ( 746043 )

          Also in a northern state. No computer could be as bad as the idiots here who try to drive their usual 5-10mph over the speed limit on slick hardpack snow...

          • Amen to that.

            I was once overtaken while driving 30 km/h on frigging ICE when a car blazed past because duh, 4-wheel drive bro. After 5 minutes I saw him face first in the siding with just two wheels still on it.

            Physics. If you don't get it, it *will* get you.

      • >> letting driverless cars go free in a State that seems to have frozen stuff on roads

        As someone who lives in a state that gets frozen roads (and has to deal with StackOverflow-quality code from west coast "tech" companies on a daily basis), yeah, I want something that's battletested in real conditions before I buy it. If they can make this work in icy and foggy Michigan, I'll trust it a whole lot more than something cobbled together in sunny and dry California.
  • Band aid fixes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @02:14PM (#53453553)

    "It makes Michigan a place where particularly for the auto industry it's a good place to do work,"

    Yeah except for the shitty roads, expensive labor, unsupportive government, hostile unions, etc. Other than that it's awesome. I find it hilarious that the state most closely associated with the auto industry has some of the worst roads in the country [mlive.com]. Good place to test handling and suspensions I guess. Anyway this doesn't really matter much unless they can keep the companies that own the technology doing it in Michigan. Who cares if Google develops self driving tech in Michigan if Michigan doesn't see any of the financial benefit from that.

    The thing that Michigan (particularly SE Michigan) has going for it is that the auto industry has a lot of residual talent left in the area. There is a ton of engineering and production capability. Michigan can be a great place to work on some really interesting technology. Seriously, it's hugely underrated as a tech hub but Michigan is one of the best places to be for high tech jobs. Too bad the state has dropped the ball in so many other areas. It's a beautiful place to live and work (outside of Detroit City proper anyway) and it's kind of a shame what has happened to the state in the last several decades.

    • And MI is a great state for automated driving systems to test again bad weather road conditions and construction re-routing....

      • And MI is a great state for automated driving systems to test again bad weather road conditions and construction re-routing....

        Which is fine but does little for the economy of Michigan by itself. Employs a few engineers and support personnel but what else is the benefit to Michigan? Hope a few businesses take root as a result but I'm not holding my breath.

  • Good for everyone. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @02:17PM (#53453583) Homepage Journal

    This is actually good news for everyone, not just people in Michigan. If self-driving vehicles can deal with the weather conditions there, they should be able to deal with them in the rest of the country, and most other countries as well. Sunny days in California don't expose the hazards posed by rain, snow, slush, and black ice.

    • So it's ok if we kill people now for us to gamble that enough people might one day be able to afford these cars for it to make a statistical difference?
      • People are already dying every day in automobile accidents. But that's ok because we already allowed those vehicles....

        • People are dying every day from a lot of things. This has almost become a 'won't you think of the children' kind of comment. It doesn't really matter because as in my original comment, not enough people will be able to afford these, ever, for it to make a difference. Not unless we scrap capitalism and go to a more sharing economy. It's a lot cheaper and reasonable for people to start eating healthier than to ever be able to afford an automated car. Yet you aren't crusading for that.
          • by arth1 ( 260657 )

            People are dying every day from a lot of things.

            Most of us only die one day, from one thing.

            Excluding all the things people might be dying for won't stop them from dying. We learn to live with risks, and weigh them as acceptable and unacceptable. But we always willingly take many risks, every day. Otherwise we would not be alive.

            • Right, and apparently driving a manual car is worth the risk for almost everyone so why risk lives to implement it? If we ever do adequately.
      • So it's ok if we kill people now for us to gamble that enough people might one day be able to afford these cars for it to make a statistical difference?

        So stop using electricity, considering the number of people killed in coal mining accidents?

      • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @02:46PM (#53453841)

        Your entire existence and life is built on previous generations making the exact same gamble. If you don't like it go live in a hut in the woods.

        Unless you think that Steam boilers were the pinnacle of human safety systems.

        • You're saying they sat steam boilers in the middle of a public place before they knew if they would explode or not? They didn't test them first in an area where they wouldn't injure anyone? That would be awful stupid. I'm glad people are smarter now.
      • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

        Where did you get the idea that we're going to kill people?

        • It's a one ton machine being driven by an intelligence that doesn't fully understand the world around it. Of course it will kill people. It will be an unusual situation that the engineers didn't think of like a heavy object swinging from a rope, but it will kill people. It is impossible for the engineers to think of everything unless they mark off a completely unused section of a town and test every possible scenario there.
    • Not just the weather conditions, the seriously poor road conditions :)
    • anyway. Oh, and if you work in a retail store or drive a cab/Uber (retail will get killed by Amazon as soon as self driving is a reality)
    • permits test parades of self-driving tractor-trailers as long as humans are in each truck.

      Hopefully, the human will be required to be at the wheel, ready to take over immediately if there's a system glitch.

      In the recent self-driving truck demonstration in Colorado, the system developer (Otto [ot.to]) bragged that "Our professional driver was out of the driver's seat for the entire 120-mile journey down I-25, monitoring the self-driving system from the sleeper berth in the back." http://www.latimes.com/busines... [latimes.com]

      Does anyone else feel that was quite unwise and cocky? It take a while to get from the sle

    • If self-driving vehicles can deal with the weather conditions there, they should be able to deal with them in the rest of the country, and most other countries as well. Sunny days in California don't expose the hazards posed by rain, snow, slush, and black ice.

      Do you have any idea how many lines of latitude California crosses, or what range of elevations we have in this state? We have all of that stuff. I've literally dealt with all of it within fifteen minutes of Santa Cruz. You know nothing about California. Do you know anything about cars?

  • We're in Trumpworld, why let a thing like human safety stand in the way of profits from a luxurymobile? Have they at least ensured that they will travel the speed limit or be in a special lane?
    • Nope, I believe they are all programmed with the "kill all humans" directive. Also, I believe they are putting spiked cow catchers on the front of every vehicle as well as those razor blade hub caps...

  • With Michigan's exemplary track record [wikipedia.org] implementing minimal regulations, what could possibly go wrong?

    Seriously though, I'm glad their beta(alpha?)-testing this for the rest of us. I think we all agree self-driving cars have great potential once we get it right, but someone has to go first to get there. Way to take one for the team, Michigan!

  • I just don't know how to feel about this. On one hand, "Yay, government getting out of the way of innovation!" On the other hand, "Snyder is a Republican so this is obviously a gift to Big Auto in the name of trickle-down economics. Or something."

  • With this new law expect the accident rate to go up, as people trying to post a picture or video of the driverless car on facebook, twitter, youtube, etc. lose control and drive into trees, other cars, buildings, off bridges, etc.

  • So what they are saying is soon very expensive cars that will not run you over will be available for theft.

    Step 1: Step in front of car.
    Step 2: Box the car in and then hook up to tow truck
    Step 3: Profit!

  • I'll head right over there now and buy a Tesla!

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