Michigan allows self-driving cars without human driver on board

Michigan allows starting now the testing of self-driving cars on public roads without the requirement of having a human driver on board to take control in case of an emergency. The lawmakers explicitly want to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicles, without restricting car makers with burdensome regulations. The lawmakers also expect that the number of fatalities and injuries caused buy traffic accidents will decrease drastically, as soon as human drivers are taken out of the traffic.

Lawmakers trust companies that with their hundred years of test experience on public roads to know when the technology is ready. The decision for the right moment is left to the car manufacturers. Governor Rick Snyder also hopes that this will create an incentive for car companies to do more research and business in the state. California, which currently has issued test licenses to 20 companies, still requires a human in the car to take over control.

Michigan’s transportation director Kirk Steudle said that the technology for autonomous vehicles is so new that it’s too early to regulate it. In case of an accident the current legal situation should be enough to deal with it. Police and traffic agencies will investigate accidents, and the manufacturers are required to have liability insurance in place. Steudle is convinced from the advantages of the technology that it will be able to dramatically decrease accidents that they will surpass the disadvantages during the tests.

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