AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES: Michigan to allow testing of self-driving vehicles on roads

Governor, Legislature approve bill in near-unanimous decision

December 31, 2013

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation last week allowing automakers, suppliers and developers to test self-driving vehicles on Michigan roads. Michigan is the fourth state to pass such a law.

While the law requires a person to be in the driver’s seat at all times, it also protects manufacturers of self-driving cars from liability for damage caused by the cars, unless the damage is the result of a manufacturing defect.

The legislature will likely keep Michigan auto suppliers from moving their self-driving vehicle tests to other states. It also opens the door for Michigan universities to further develop and test their self-driving systems.

According to the University of Michigan, the city of Ann Arbor—which is near the end of a 15-month study of 3,000 interconnected vehicles—could become the first U.S. city with a network of self-driving vehicles by 2021.