State lawmakers get up close look at driverless car research and development

State lawmakers get up close look at driverless car research and development

LANSING, Mich. (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) - New research from Temple University shows just a few driverless vehicles on the road could cut down on traffic pile-ups.

The new study comes as researchers in Michigan continue to test autonomous vehicle technology.

In Ann Arbor, lawmakers are trying to make Michigan a leader in the new tech industry.

It looks like a real city, but it's not. The mailboxes are fake and so are the buildings.

We're inside M-City. This is where driverless technology is being researched and developed. Tuesday, lawmakers got an up close look at the technology.

Just like humans, the driverless car needs eyes and ears to navigate.

To test and improve the technology, the University of Michigan and its partners built the testing facility M-City, which features intersections, storefronts, and city streets.

Dozens of car makers are conducting research there, paving the way for Michigan to become a leader in self-driving tech.

"There are other folks in Silicon Valley especially, who are doing good work too. For a while it seemed like it was Michigan vs. California," said associate research scientist David LeBlanc.

Michigan lawmakers toured M-City to learn how to keep Michigan on the forefront of autonomous cars.

"Because ultimately this leads to more jobs. This leads to more young people--our brightest our best, our talented folks--staying in Michigan. And that's good for our economy," said House Transportation Chair, Representative Triston Cole.

Rep. Cole says he doesn't want lawmakers to slow down development.

"We want to make sure we don't pass policies that are going to impede progress when it comes to automated technologies," he said.

State lawmakers passed laws allowing testing on public roads, including self-driving vehicles that have no steering wheels.

Whether you're ready or not, the technology is here, and lawmakers from both parties say it's a matter of allowing it to happen.

"And it's going to come with a lot of questions. A lot of debate. A lot of regulation. Because we want safety to be the primary focus on why we are doing this," said Representative Pete Lucido, of Shelby Township.

Right now, as some Michigan roads are being rebuilt, they are being built with technology that will facilitate driverless cars.

Lawmakers say they are preparing for the future.

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