Self-driving cars may soon hit the roads of Michigan — home of US automakers Chrysler, Ford, and GM — as Governor Rick Snyder continues a push for his state to join California, Florida, and Nevada in allowing driverless vehicle testing. Snyder said yesterday that autonomous vehicles will eventually increase road capacity and improve driver safety throughout the state — but the governor is also looking to pit Detroit against Silicon Valley. Industry around autonomous driving technology has continued to grow in the California tech hub, where Google, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen have all located nearby research facilities, and Snyder has previously called out Michigan's need to act as the industry develops elsewhere. "They’re ahead of us and aren’t we the automotive capital of the world?"
To pass legislation that's been introduced to Michigan's Senate, Snyder has been working to quell safety concerns around allowing self-driving vehicles onto the road. In the current legislation, testing self-driving vehicles in the state would require a licensed human operator to be able to resume manual control of the vehicle at all times. The governor has been quick to reiterate the need for a licensed human operator in the short term, but it sounds like he's a big believer in the power of the machine over the long haul. He told the Detroit Free Press that Google's self-driving car can make decisions faster and better than many human drivers, and envisions a Michigan where roads are filled with autonomous vehicles closely communicating with one another. "In long term, [we'll have] vehicles that may not even have people in them," Snyder said back in January.