U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, visited Ann Arbor’s MCity on September 12 to announce new safety guidelines for autonomous vehicles.
The all-day event at the University of Michigan’s driverless vehicle testing facility saw the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) announcement of Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety, a set of non-mandatory guidelines complementary to the SELF DRIVE Act that passed in the House of Representatives on September 7.
“The new Guidance supports further development of this important new technology, which has the potential to change the way we travel and how we deliver goods and services,” said Ms. Chao.
The guidelines prioritize safety for users along with increased usability for people with disabilities or illnesses that prevent them from driving.
“94% of serious crashes are caused, unfortunately, by human error. So automated driving systems hold the promise of significantly reducing these errors”, said Ms. Chao during the event. “The safe deployment of automated vehicle technologies means we can look forward to a future with fewer traffic fatalities and increased mobility for all Americans”, she explained later in a press release.
Michigan U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell also supported the guidelines as they offer the possibility of improving safety alongside economic benefits. “This is a unique opportunity […] to improve safety, support the auto industry’s comeback, and help create more cutting-edge jobs in our state”, commented the Representative. “Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to making this new technology a reality”.
Since the early 1900s, the long history of the state as a center for automotive production and development has withstood the passage of time by adopting new technologies and staying at the forefront of the industry.
The 32-acre test track MCity at Ann Arbor is at the heart of Michigan’s status as a driverless car hub. Around this facility, the campus of the University of Michigan has become the meeting point for manufacturers, researchers and developers of the technology. Within the campus itself, driverless shuttles by French startup Navya are being deployed.
While Michigan no longer the place where most cars are made in the U.S., it is at the forefront of innovation in driverless technologies. Toyota, GM, Fiat Chrysler, Waymo, May Mobility and other companies are located or have autonomous vehicle research centers in the state. Another trial site in Ypsilanti is currently under development too.