You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

Snyder: Michigan poised to be a leader in autonomous vehicle research

By Kellie Woodhouse

Gov. Rick Snyder is hopeful that Lansing soon will approve legislation that would allow researchers to test autonomous vehicles on the open road in Michigan.

Allowing such research, he says, is key to southeast Michigan securing a place as a leader in the development of future automotive technology.

"Michigan should be a leader in all of this," he said, citing Michigan's background in engineering and manufacturing. "The job opportunities for people in these fields is going to be outstanding."

Snyder spoke Monday from inside Michigan Stadium at the start of Michigan Robotics Day, co-sponsored by the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor-based National Center for Manufacturing Sciences.

Thousands of vehicles equipped with wireless technology that essentially allows the cars to talk to each other and the infrastructure around them have been driving around northeast Ann Arbor since August. The deployment is part of a federal grant awarded to U-M. The government is testing how drivers adapt to the technology and whether it helps motorists avoid crashes.

When U-M began the deployment, state officials, industry leaders and top U-M researchers amped up discussions on how Michigan could leverage the opportunity to become a nucleus of future automotive development.

John Maddox, director of U-M Transportation Research Institute's collaboration program, said the project "contributed" to Snyder's confidence that Michigan can still attract companies to do their research and development here.

Autonomous vehicle research seems to be the next step and Snyder —who called himself a cheerleader for autonomous vehicle development in Michigan— is looking to break down legal barriers impeding research.

"We have an incredible opportunity with him because he's a technician and he's also in a place of power, he can affect incredible change," Maddox said in an interview.

"For a long time we've maintained that we're at the center of the auto industry. Other folks now are trying to take that from us. We are the center of the connected vehicle movement right now," Maddox continued. "We have the largest deployment in the world, not just in the United States, and we are actively testing these vehicles with people from the community. "

Maddox said 4,400 people signed up to be a part of the 3,000-car deployment.

Snyder said the biggest hurdle in integrating autonomous vehicle research on state roads is educating the public so people are not fearful of the technology.

"I don't see why there should be a lot of obstacles," he said. "It's more communicating to the public about their fears and concerns about having autonomous vehicles driving around. ... This doesn't mean [cars are on the road] without a human ... you're having a human backup system."

Snyder said he's pushing for autonomous vehicle research in Michigan because it will create jobs and the vehicles will save infrastructure costs in the long term.

In his January State of the State address, the governor announced his intention to allow autonomous vehicle testing on public roads. He's hopeful Senate Bill 169 will spur more automated vehicle research in Michigan and said the legislation is poised to pass "relatively soon."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Laura Jones

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

This will make Michigan the US Center for automated vehicles - if we pull it off. If so, it will bring jobs, companies and tourism from around the world here to Michigan. The interest already is driving companies to invest here. Being against this is really hard to fathom. This can help make Michigan great once again - for everyone!


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 11:52 p.m.

So will this research be funded by the State of MI slush fund from the money stolen by new no-taxes imposed by the Repubs? You know, taxes on pensions, taxes on vehicle fees, especially the new one coming in July, higher tax payments because less deductions allowed by those budget-minded Repubs so the job-creators can create more low-paying jobs stolen form the public schools for their tax breaks...and on and on....


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

Apparently a "driverless" governor stole my homestead property tax credit.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 11:30 p.m.

More high skilled jobs in the state is a good thing, regardless of who is pushing it. Giving more graduates of the state universities a chance to stay in Michigan is good for everyone.

Wake Up A2

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

That way his driver less car can be told to miss the areas hurt by his policies. Oh wait the car doesn't fly.

Patrick Maurer

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

Good, let the computers pay Snyders new gas tax and registration fees!!

Usual Suspect

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

Trying to understand how this is a detriment the middle class, because I've been told over and over that Snyder is conducting a war on them. Also trying to figure how the Koch brothers are involved in this. I'm sure somebody here in the comments section will tell me within an hour or two.

Usual Suspect

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 12:52 a.m.

Thanks, leaguebus. I knew somebody would be able to explain it to me. Now I understand.

Usual Suspect

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 12:48 a.m.

He got it on sale down at the lame store. It was a two-for-one deal with, "Michissippi."


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

" Repubilkan " well that's original did you think that one up by yourself ?


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

The Koch brothers are on board with this. Now, they can hire minimum wage Limo drivers and have more to spend on our Republikan legislators.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

Suspect...Oh I'm sure someone will.There is NOTHING that Snyder can or ever will do without getting dopey comments by his haters


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

I'm sure Tea Party types in Lansing are already salivating on the chance to vote NO.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

What ?? thumbs down but no reply ? wow.... never would have expected that ( sarcasm )


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

Ok.... why do you think that may I ask ? or is it just another baseless shot ?