Less than a week after Governor Rick Snyder signed new legislation to allow autonomous vehicles to operate on Michigan's roads, General Motors has announced that it will begin immediate testing of self-driving vehicles in the state.
The company has already begun testing fully autonomous development fleet vehicles at its Technical Center campus in Warren, Michigan and will expand this testing to nearby public roads.
In the next few months, GM will then extend this testing to metro Detroit, which will become the manufacturer’s main base for developing autonomous technology for winter climates.
General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said: “Revolutionizing transportation for our customers while improving safety on roads is the goal of our autonomous vehicle technology, and today’s announcement gets us one step closer to making this vision a reality.
“Our autonomous technology will be reliable and safe, as customers have come to expect from any of our vehicles.”
GM also announced that from early 2017, it will produce its autonomous test vehicles at its Orion Township assembly facility, where workers will build Bolt electric vehicles equipped with fully autonomous technology. GM brand Chevrolet delivered the first of its Bolt long-range electric vehicles to customers in the San Francisco Bay area earlier this week.
The carmaker said that the new autonomous driving equipment on its test fleet would include LIDAR, cameras, sensors and other hardware designed to ensure the safety of its self-driving systems.
In addition to tests in Michigan, GM engineers will use the test fleet vehicles for the ongoing testing and validation of the company’s autonomous technology. The company is already testing more than 40 autonomous vehicles on public roads in San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona.
GM has taken a number of steps to speed its development of autonomous technology this year, including its acquisition of software company Cruise Automation in March.
Earlier in the year, it also announced the creation of a dedicated autonomous vehicle engineering team and a $500 million investment in Lyft to help develop an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles in the US.
What are Michigan’s new autonomous vehicle laws?
Last week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed what the state called ‘landmark’ legislation to allow the operation of autonomous vehicles on Michigan’s roads.
Prior to the signing of Senate Bill 995, manufacturers were only allowed to test autonomous vehicles on Michigan’s roads.
The bill also permits automated vehicle platooning, which allows vehicles to travel more closely together with their speed controlled electronically, and authorises on-demand autonomous vehicle networks.
“Michigan put the world on wheels and now we are leading the way in transforming the auto industry,” said Snyder at a signing ceremony at the Automotive Hall of Fame Museum.
“We are becoming the mobility industry, shaped around technology that makes us more aware and safer as we’re driving. By recognizing that and aligning our state’s policies as new technology is developed, we will continue as the leader the rest of the world sees as its biggest competition.”