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driverless cars

Self-driving technologies like Tesla's Autopilot mode are limited by the sensors they use to detect obstacles on the road.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It's a persistent message: Self-driving cars are coming. Yet, before the roads are filled with cars steered entirely by computers, there’s much work to be done — especially when it comes to safety.

A grim reminder of that happened this past May when a man driving a Tesla became the first to die while using autopilot mode. He was watching a DVD when his car plowed into a tractor-trailer that was crossing its path.

That accident sent a message to the engineers who are developing this technology: get it right and make it safe.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

Michigan's ban on straight-ticket voting keeps moving up the judicial ladder.

In the latest edition of The Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Doug Tribou look at the state's latest move to reinstate the ban and whether voters will have the option in November.

Ford Motor Company

This is a very busy weekend on Michigan highways.  

But in the future, many of the vehicles on the road won’t have a person behind the wheel.

The state senate is expected act quickly on a package of bills to loosen rules governing autonomous vehicles.

Kirk Steudle is the head of the Michigan Department of Transportation.  

He believes autonomous cars will eventually reduce fatalities on Michigan roads.

Steudle wants automakers to have more leeway to test driverless cars in Michigan.

Ford Motor Company's self-driving vehicle
Ford Motor Company

Michigan is edging closer to clearing the road for driverless cars.

A state Senate committee approved a package of four bills that loosen existing rules for autonomous vehicles. The state created rules for driverless cars just a few years ago. But evolving technology has apparently made those rules “obsolete.”

FLICKR USER AUTOMOBILE ITALIA https://flic.kr/p/AsE6u3

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes has been reviewing the landscape of automobiles, high-tech, and next-generation mobility and finds Fiat Chrysler’s top guy Sergio Marchionne is lagging.

FLICKR USER GMANVIZ/FLICKR / HTTPS://FLIC.KR/P/R6CN6R

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Auto-centric Michigan is preparing for the advent of self-driving cars by pushing legislation to allow for public sales and operation - not just testing only.

While the widespread use of driverless cars may be years away, lawmakers and transportation leaders say the technology is progressing so rapidly that Michigan must stay ahead of the curve or risk losing automotive research and development to other states.

Flickr user gmanviz/Flickr / https://flic.kr/p/r6cN6r

Andrew Hoffman’s grandmother was born in 1895 and died in 1990. In her lifetime, she saw the adoption of indoor plumbing, indoor electrification, airplane travel and computers. Children of today will also see change their lifetime. The main changes, Hoffman believes, will be in electricity and mobility.

 

Hoffman is a professor at the Ross School of Business and Education Director at the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan. He wrote an essay for The Conversation entitled “How driverless vehicles will redefine mobility and change car culture.”

He joined us on Stateside to discuss what may happen in the near future, as self-driving vehicles make their mark on culture.

 


Flickr

Driverless cars are racking up more than double the number of accidents as conventional cars with a human behind the wheel. 

But "it's a complicated message," says Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

His study shows that driverless cars get in 9.1 crashes per million miles driven. 

But here's the really interesting part.  The accidents have all been minor - the worst injury was whiplash - and the crashes were all caused by human drivers plowing into the back of the 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.

Wikipedia

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.