Self-driving vehicles are about to hit Michigan's roads

20 December 2016 - 14:32 By AFP Relaxnews

It looks as if GM's latest cars will be making their way to Detroit without any help from humans.

GM is to start autonomous vehicle manufacturing and testing in Michigan.
GM is to start autonomous vehicle manufacturing and testing in Michigan.
Image: ©GM

Following Michigan's signing of the SAVE Act legislation, GM is to immediately start testing its autonomous cars on the state's roads.

"Revolutionizing transportation for our customers while improving safety on roads is the goal of our autonomous vehicle technology, and today's [signing] gets us one step closer to making this vision a reality," said General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.

Like Ford and Google's newly spun-out company Waymo, GM already has a sizable presence in the state when it comes to autonomous vehicle technology testing. However, until now development work was restricted to its own campus and more recently, to the Mcity, a new purpose-built facility created by the University of Michigan as a dedicated life-like testing ground for autonomous and connected car technology.

Though Detroit, Michigan is known as the motor city -- the birthplace of both Ford and the individual marques making up GM -- as the convergence between cars and technology accelerates, Silicon Valley has started to assert itself as America's center for automotive research and development.

However the opening of Mcity in July 2015 and now the passing of the SAVE Act will ensure that Michigan can continue to compete.

"For the past century, Detroit has been at the center of the automobile," said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, Google autonomous vehicle technology company. "As we look toward the next phase of mobility, it's clear that the Motor City will continue to play a pivotal role bringing together the best of what Detroit and Silicon Valley have to offer."

Although there is a huge buzz around the subject of self-driving cars, many consumers are still less than comfortable with the idea of handing over control of their vehicles to hardware, software and algorithms.

"Our autonomous technology will be reliable and safe, as customers have come to expect from any of our vehicles," said Barra.