driverless cars

A Minute with Mike: On driverless vehicles

Jul 20, 2015

Despite the growing convergence of cars and computers, motorists still have to pump gas, at times haggle with the local mechanic down the street, or continuously watch the road for massive pot-holes and their fellow aggressive drivers.

Well, car and software companies are working hard on tackling that issue by building -- Are you ready!?!! 

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan held an opening ceremony for Mcity, a realistic test environment that will be used to develop autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles can navigate without human input. 

Mcity is a 32-acre controlled environment that includes intersections, traffic signs, a highway entrance and exit, and construction obstacles.

Courtesy of GM

The Next Idea

It can often be difficult to imagine just how much the latest innovations will truly affect our lives. The smartphone’s contributions, for example, are now obvious; the Segway’s, not so much.

One industry, however, that offers some of the clearest examples of how technology and new innovations will fundamentally change our world is the auto industry.

From driverless cars and 3-D printers, to shifting demographic and transportation trends, automakers are competing to find the best, most efficient innovations that will reshape everything from the way we buy (or share) cars to how we drive (or won’t) in the coming decades.

Today marks the 1,000th day that Amir Hekmati has been in an Iranian prison. U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, joined us to discuss what is being done to free the Michigan Marine. 

And it's morel hunting season in Michigan. A top morel hunter and chef joined us on the program today.

Next, the BBC's Justin Webb went for a test drive in one of Google's driverless cars. 

Then, the Republican's minimum-wage bill cleared the state Senate last week, and could demolish Raise Michigan's petition drive that would set minimum wage even higher. 

user: mariordo / Wikimedia Commons

Not that long ago, things like robot vacuum cleaners or self-guided lawn mowers seemed like science fiction. Now, nobody bats an eye at a robot scooting around the living room. 

So how long will it be before we're getting around in cars that don't need drivers?

Just a few years, according to Google. 

The company has developed a prototype which is apparently now ready for its biggest test: the demands of the city. 

Justin Webb, who's with Stateside partner BBC, went for a test drive at Google headquarters, and joined us to describe the experience. 

Hit the jump to see what it looks like to be in a driverless car by watching Google's video. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - University of Michigan and state government officials aim to have a 32-acre driverless car test site running by September - in time for a global conference on intelligent transportation systems.

Gov. Rick Snyder and other state and university officials gathered Tuesday at Detroit's auto show to outline plans for the Mobility Transformation Facility, a $6.5 million site on the Ann Arbor university's North Campus.

It will offer a simulated urban environment with roads, intersections, building facades, traffic circles and a hill.


Governor Snyder has signed a law that opens up Michigan’s roads as testing grounds for driverless cars.

More and more, it seems that these autonomous vehicles — “intelligent” cars that can drive themselves and even communicate with each other — will be a big part of our transportation future.

At least, that’s what Gov. Snyder and the state’s carmakers are banking on. And they want to stay ahead of the curve in research and design.