Horn legislation would keep Michigan at the forefront of autonomous vehicle technology

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Ken Horn on Wednesday introduced legislation that would pave the way for autonomous vehicle roadways in Michigan.

“Technology has grown well beyond what many of us ever thought possible, and it has done so very quickly,” said Horn, R-Frankenmuth. “Michigan is the home of the automobile, and we need to solidify Michigan as the future of the automobile as well.”

Senate Bill 706 would allow the Michigan Department of Transportation and Office of Future Mobility to work with the private sector to create and put into use automated vehicle roadway (AVR) technology in the state of Michigan.

The legislation follows recommendations included in the Council on Future Mobility and Electrification and builds on previous efforts initiated by Horn that opened the door for autonomous vehicle research and testing in Michigan. In 2016, Horn was one of the sponsors of a bipartisan package that allowed “real world” testing of autonomous vehicles on certain roadways, so long as specific safety measures were met.

“A lot of our previous efforts have been focused on smart cars, but as we see more and more growth in the electric and autonomous vehicle industry, we need to make sure we’re ready to take on the next chapter,” Horn said. “Smart cars need smart roads.”

MDOT Director Paul C. Ajegba agreed, saying, “While Michigan has been a leader in developing and deploying mobility technology, the state needs to keep up with technological advances and adopt policies that promote growth in the industry in order to continue leading this sector.”

“We are pleased to collaborate with Senator Horn on this groundbreaking legislation because we know how important connected and automated vehicles will be to the automotive industry in our state and the safety of Michigan motorists,” Ajegba said. “If we want to continue to lead in this sector, the law must be amended to facilitate emerging smart infrastructure technology.”

Office of Future Mobility and Electrification Chief Mobility Officer Trevor Pawl added that the state needs to establish its leadership in the industry sooner rather than later and that policies like SB 706 help do that.

“For Michigan residents to experience the future benefits that connected and autonomous vehicles can provide, we need to develop responsive mobility policies today,” Pawl said. “This legislation puts Michigan in a leadership position when it comes to setting global standards for the future of transportation infrastructure, smart cities, and vehicle safety. We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Horn on this important issue.”

SB 706 was referred to the Senate Committee on Economic and Small Business Development for further consideration.

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