Bills allowing self-driving cars is heading for Gov. Snyder's desk
A package of bills legalizing and regulating autonomous cars is waiting for Gov. Rick Snyder's signature.
These four bills are a follow up to a bill from 2014 which only legalized the testing of autonomous cars, Sen. Mike Kowall (R-White Lake) said.
"The legislation has quickly become antiquated because (of) the advance in technology, so what we’re doing is we’re opening up all 122,000 miles of Michigan roadways to automated vehicles and these bills will allow that to happen,” Kowall said.
In addition to legalizing autonomous cars, one bill sets penalties for hacking an autonomous car and another one deals with the American Center for Mobility, or ACM.
"I believe it’s on the 21st of the month, we’re going to be cutting the ribbon on the building at Willow Run which will bring a multitude of jobs over to that area that desperately needs it,” Kowall said.
According to the ACM's website the purpose of the facility is for testing and product development in regards to automated vehicle technology.
Kowall explained how self-driving cars will operate.
"It’s going to be just like your cruise control on your vehicle now," Kowall said. "When you want to go into autonomous mode you can hit the button and the car will take over and if you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to. It’s just that simple."
Part of the bills are focused on the safety of autonomous cars.
"The entire thing is being put together to keep people safe. (Nationally) we lose 36,000 people annually to motor vehicle accidents, and it’s paramount that we keep the motoring public as safe as humanly possible," Kowall said.
According to statistical summary from the U.S. Department of Transportation 94 percent of car accidents are caused by human error.
Some MSU students are skeptical of the idea of autonomous cars.
“I still don’t feel comfortable with the whole thing," construction management junior Casey Norder said. "It is still relatively new and I’d feel more comfortable in a few years after more tests have been done with them."
Cognitive science sophomore Courtney Cameron agreed.
“That does not sound like a good idea to me because I don’t want people to become too dependent on cars that can drive themselves," Cameron said. "I just think it’s a slippery slope, you don’t want it to go too far."
Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) sponsored one of the bills.
"The bill that I sponsored has more to do with the penalties for hacking an (sic) autonomous vehicle," Horn said. "We want to make sure that people know how seriously we’re taking this."
Four years of work went into creating the package of bills, Kowall said.
“We’re trying to cover all our bases and I think to this point we’re in pretty good shape," Kowall said. "This is all new territory for everybody involved and it’s navigating unknown waters, so as things progress I’m sure the laws will have to evolve as well.”