Autonomous vehicles on display at NAIAS - WNEM TV 5

Autonomous vehicles on display at NAIAS

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

Research into autonomous vehicles has been going on for more than a decade, but Ford said within four years consumers will see those vehicles on the road.

"Since the beginning of automobiles, they've been designed so a human would sit there and drive them, right? And now, we're making a vehicle that will drive itself," said Greg Stevens, Ford's automated driving general manager.

Ford plans to have the autonomous, driverless vehicle ready to roll by 2021. The evidence of the push towards automation was on full display at the North American International Auto Show.

"It's important we keep developing new technology to take over the old technology that's existing today," said Patrik Ryne, engineering manager for Nexteer.

The Saginaw based company unveiled its quiet wheel steering system on Monday. The technology keeps the steering wheel stationary as the vehicle drives itself. They also developed a steering on demand system so drivers can safely override autonomous driving.

"It's not just about automotive and steering, it's a society thing that's going to affect the types of jobs we have, how we live, how we do things," Ryne said.

Kirk Steudle, with the Michigan Department of Transportation, said the state is laying the foundation for Michigan to be the trailblazer in autonomous development.

"We've got some of it where we've got the smarts put in the road. As we rebuild the roadway, we're making sure we've got fiberoptics down below it to handle whatever the future brings," Steudle said.

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