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News   September 15, 2016   by Steve Pawlett

Google Seeks Amendment To Michigan Driverless Car Bills


Google said it is concerned about Michigan legislation that may prohibit companies such as the tech giant from operating autonomous ride-sharing businesses in the state. The company asked a House committee to amend language in the bills.

John Krafcik, CEO of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project, in a letter to the Michigan House Communications and Technology Committee, asked the committee to amend two self-driving bills to ensure the company could compete in the state.

“While the current bill coming out of the Senate may be suitable for traditional motor vehicle manufacturers, we are concerned that ambiguities in two of the definitions in SB 995 and SB 997 could be read to exclude other innovative AV (autonomous vehicle) technology companies such as Google from operating in the state,” Krafcik wrote in a letter released on Sept. 13.

The bills, as passed by the Senate last week, define autonomous vehicle manufacturers to have “distributed motor vehicles” in the U.S. before being allowed to operate an autonomous ride-sharing business in Michigan. Google says some may interpret that to exclude companies such as the tech company because it does not currently sell vehicles.

The House committee held its first hearing for the state Senate’s autonomous four-bill package on Sept. 13. It heard from several companies and speakers, including the state of Michigan Transportation Director Kirk Steudle, representatives from Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co., the Michigan Association for Justice and Michigan Environmental Council. No Google officials testified and the committee took no action.

Google is partnering with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to create a fleet of 100 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Work is being done on that project from an office in Novi.

Krafcik, in the letter, called the amendments “crucial” to “ensure that investment and deployment of AV technology is not inadvertently discouraged in the state, and that Michigan residents benefit from all manufacturers’ contributions to AV technology and safety.”


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