The state of Michigan has gone ahead and completely legalized self-driving vehicles. What this means is that manufacturers can now sell vehicles that drive themselves all of the time to consumers. These vehicles don’t even have to feature steering wheels or brake pedals.
Unsurprisingly, the legalization was heavily backed by on-demand taxi service firms — such as Uber and Lyft — and also Google, the Detroit 3, and Toyota.
If this sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because the legalization bills were passed by the Michigan Senate all the way back in September, but they were only very recently signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder.
So, to reiterate (in case you think you’re dreaming): auto manufacturers are now legally allowed to sell completely autonomous vehicles to consumers, and consumers are now legally allowed to use self-driving features anywhere in the state, on any road.
Altogether, this can be taken as things getting one step closer to the day when Uber and Lyft fire the majority of their drivers and greatly increase their profit margins (or get into a nasty pricing war and don’t increase their profit margins).
It would seem likely that, after a short adjustment period, a switch to autonomous taxis will increase service utilization for Uber and Lyft. Then problems relating to bad drivers and vehicles that reek of third-hand smoke and/or animal urine can then be resolved to some degree or another.
It’ll be interesting, though, to see what tact the companies end up taking with regard to bad riders. Outright bans for bad behavior? Heavy fines? A warning system? While the elimination of drivers will do away with bad drivers, it’ll likely lead to worse passenger behavior and accountability.
Anyways, back to the legalization in Michigan, Governor Snyder commented on the matter: “By establishing guidelines and standards for self-driving vehicles, we’re continuing that tradition of excellence in a way that protects the public’s safety while at the same time allows the mobility industry to grow without overly burdensome regulations.”
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