Michigan approves autonomous cars


This is the fourth state to approve the testing of autonomous vehicles on its public roads (California, Florida and Nevada having been quick off the mark). With Detroit needing a gesture of public confidence, this is a no-cost law. Google has now confirmed more than half-a-million miles of testing without an accident. Nissan and Ford have also been running tests for some time and, so far, there has not been an accident featuring a self-driving car.

Nevertheless, the Michigan bill stipulates there must be someone in the driver’s seat while the vehicle is in motion. In theory, the quick reflexes of the human will always be able to rescue the situation, i.e. it’s always possible the software will malfunction or the car break down in a way that deprives the computer of control. As a warning to other road users, the license plate on the vehicles must carry an M. The bill passed both houses in Michigan with only one vote against — there must always be at least one Luddite. The result should be more testing within the state which is good for the state’s economy.

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