Michigan lawmakers move forward bills to allow research on auton - WNEM TV 5

Michigan lawmakers move forward bills to allow research on autonomous vehicles

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Self-driving cars could be made in Mid-Michigan.

On Wednesday senators looked to cut through the red tape slowing down developers. They met at Nexteer Automotive in Saginaw where some of the vehicles would be made.

Jeff Zurlski, executive engineer at Nexteer, said autonomous vehicles will be on the streets sooner than we think.

Michigan lawmakers don't want the great automotive state to be left behind in the new frontier.

"If we don't keep up with technology, my fear is that we lose our auto manufacturing status as leaders in the world," State Senator Ken Horn (R-Saginaw) said.

A Michigan senate committee moved forward a package of bills on Wednesday to remove the red tape in self-driving car research and testing. For example, allowing autonomous cars on Michigan freeways as well as giving the responsibility to the automakers for the safety of the vehicles.

There is a lot of hesitation by drivers, fearing the self-driving cars could never be safe. Many think the unpredictability of other human-driven cars would cause too many accidents.

Lawmakers said these bills are paving the way for more research to find out what risks are out there.

"We want to make sure these cars yield to drivers already on the road. That they understand what it means when they come up to a construction site," Horn said.

Zurlski said they need to design the vehicles so something doesn't go wrong if a part breaks while driving.

"For an autonomous driving car, if something goes wrong the overall system needs to continue. So even if a small component inside the car fails we have solutions that would allow the overall system to still work," Zurlski said.

With the technology still in progress, lawmakers said they want to make sure that process happens in Michigan.

"Technology is moving forward with or without us. It just matters where it'll be," Horn said.

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