The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is surveying the automotive industry to help the agency prepare for the eventual testing of self-driving or autonomous vehicles in the state. MDOT’s online survey is being performed in collaboration with the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. MDOT is hoping that survey responses from automobile, robotics and technology manufacturers that are involved in the autonomous vehicle industry, will help determine what is needed for a successful testing environment in southeast Michigan. In May, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles agreed Google’s application to test its self-driving vehicles in the state, with the proviso that the company has at least two people in vehicles during testing, including one in the driver's seat.
Google is among the companies at the forefront of autonomous vehicle development and has already covered more than 250,000 miles of testing with its fleet of 10 self-driving cars, which are retrofitted Toyota Prius sedans with added sensors and cameras. By eliminating ‘driver error’, which is the primary cause of vehicle accidents, Google is hoping to prove scientifically and under ‘real-world’ conditions that its self-driving cars are safer and make fewer mistakes than human drivers.
Michigan’s transportation director, Kirk Steudle, said, “Automotive and technology researchers have brought this concept to the brink of reality. The next steps include real-world testing to ensure the technology is working as planned and is meeting consumer needs. This survey will play a pivotal role in determining what autonomous vehicle and robotics manufacturers need as a platform to further develop, test and deploy this technology. Southeast Michigan is already home to the most advanced automotive research and development facilities in the world, which makes us the ideal location for this emerging technology.” Interested parties can contribute to the survey at: www.cargroup.org/?module=Page&sID=mdot
2 August 2012
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