Michigan Council on Future Mobility makes key recommendations

Michigan’s successful mobility future isn’t just about the technical innovations under the hood. The transition to mainstream connected and autonomous vehicle use on Michigan roadways is also driven by issues related to insurance, liability, legislation, talent, and accessibility, according to the Michigan Council on Future Mobility 2018 Annual Report.

The report, which the council presented to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder this week, outlines recommendations for policy action on several key points, and is designed to position and maintain Michigan as the global leader in mobility innovation, research, and testing. The council itself is a group of individuals representing public and private sector entities charged with asking the important questions regarding the successful adoption of connected and autonomous vehicle use, and keep Michigan in the lead of next-generation mobility, nationally and globally.

During a roundtable discussion held at at the George W. Romney building in Lansing, council co-founder and report co-author John Peracchio, managing member with Grosse Pointe Shores consulting firm Peracchio & Company, L.L.C., detailed the depth of industry expertise from academia, law enforcement, risk management, insurance, and legal, that met with the council to help determine the actions and recommendations in the report.

In addition to poring through the Michigan Vehicle Code and the Michigan Insurance Code to determine appropriate language and terminology amendments to reflect potential driverless scenarios, the council will develop ways to educate first responders and law enforcement officials on the changing landscape, and establish regional infrastructure pilot programs specific to connected and autonomous vehicles.

A standout from the report is the creation of a public-private collaboration to create a high definition map database, starting with southeast Michigan. The data, captured during routine daily activities for salt trucks, plows, and other public sector vehicles, will be available for use by any public or private organization for R&D and testing.

“This will be the only one that exists in the union available to researchers,” Peracchio says.

Recognizing that no one agency can solve the vast issues of successful next-generation mobility, council co-chair and director of the Michigan Department of Transportation Kirk Steudle, emphasized the critical value of collaboration.

“What’s really changed from 10 or 20 years ago is the collaborative nature, and the understanding that it will take a lot of good minds to work through these issues,” he says.

With new risks emerging, including possibilities of cyber attacks, and the infrastructure required to support autonomous vehicles, Amy Mass, vice president and counsel with Howell-based Hanover Insurance Group/Citizens Insurance, stresses the need for insurance will remain, even in the eventual age of fully autonomous vehicles, and certainly in the years where roads will be mixed-use.

Ultimately, the road carrying autonomous vehicles will be safer, even when stakeholders and the public recognize the risks in the wake of the recent pedestrian death involving an Uber autonomous vehicle in Arizona. Members of the roundtable acknowledged that in the U.S., more than 100 people are killed in crashes involving non-autonomous vehicles every day, and that increased technology has the potential to dramatically reduce that statistic.

Finally, while the report recognizes that some jobs, including taxi, delivery, and truck driving, may dwindle as autonomous vehicles become more widespread, Michigan must continue to be proactive in training workers to take advantage of new job categories that will be created, including mobility technicians that will be valuable to every dealership and vehicle repair shop in the state.

Snyder addressed talent concerns, referring to his Marshall Plan for Talent, announced earlier this year, that will address investments and partnerships to attract and develop talent, especially in the mobility sector.

In his closing remarks, Snyder focused on mobility’s impact on talent, safety, and the future of society.

“Mobility has a transformative impact. It will make lives safer, roads safer, and provide those with disabilities or who are economically disadvantaged to get to work, or training, or quality of life opportunities that they don’t have today. We will be smarter about infrastructure, which provide better quality of life for all of us,” he says. “We are the world leaders, and the council is at the forefront of that leadership.”
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