Many steps keep autonomous vehicle testing safe

Keith Crain underscores a vital truth in his July 1 column, "Too much, too soon." Automated vehicles, including driverless shuttles, should be rigorously tested and safely deployed, whether a human or an automated-driving system is "at the wheel."

Mr. Crain and others also have raised some thought-provoking questions confronting the legal and insurance professions as more automated vehicles take to the roads.

It was with those very questions in mind that Michigan in 2016 adopted pioneering legislation to support safe operations of automated vehicles on Michigan roads. Specific to Mr. Crain's points, one bill created the Michigan Council on Future Mobility, comprising 21 governor-appointed industry, academic and government leaders to draft policy recommendations on these fronts.

This was forward-thinking. A recent AAA survey found 75 percent of Americans wary of self-driving vehicles. That underscores the need for the council and its robust discussions

Consider examples of currently deployed automated (versus truly autonomous) technology. Vehicle manufacturers are increasingly adding safety features, such as adaptive cruise control to moderate speeds, lane integrity to alert drowsy motorists when their vehicles stray and automatic braking. The gains in safety are showing as these technologies are added to conventional vehicles. In addition, driverless shuttles are being deployed in specific settings for distinct purposes. As Mr. Crain's column observed, Bedrock is using a driverless shuttle to move its employees around downtown.


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