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2012-08-01 09:13

HEADING TO MICHIGAN? Google's self-driving Prius could soon be allowed to test in Michigan as the US state surveys the viability of autonomous vehicles.

A survey of the Michigan auto industry is being conducted to help the US state prepare for the testing of autonomous vehicles.

The Detroit News reports survey responses gathered by the Michigan Department of Transportation will help determine what is needed for successful self-driving vehicle testing in the state.

State Transportation Director Kirk Steudle said: "Automotive and technology researchers have brought this concept to the brink of reality. The next steps include real-world testing to ensure the technology is working as planned and is meeting consumer needs."

TRAILBLAZING GOOGLE

According to Detroit News, Google’s fleet of 10 autonomous car has already logged more than 400 000km in testing. Google has received permission to test its self-driving Toyota Prius cars, with added sensors and cameras, in California and Nevada.

Google project manager Anthony Levandowski said in April 2012 the company could make an announcement in 2013 on when it might make the self-driving technology readily available.

Google needs to prove mathematically that the self-driving cars are safer — and make fewer mistakes — than drivers. Google says its self-driving cars on average complete a test course a couple of seconds faster than human drivers.

Google wants to log at least 1.6-million km before it offers the technology to the general public.

Michigan said it is conducting an online survey in collaboration with the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

MORE STUDIES UNDER WAY


Steudle told Detroit News: "This survey will play a pivotal role in determining what autonomous vehicle and robotics manufacturers need as a platform to further develop, test and deploy this technology.

"Southeast Michigan is already home to the most advanced automotive research and development facilities in the world, which makes us the ideal location for this emerging technology."

In June 2012, General Motors said it is studying changing driver behavior in self-driving vehicles that could be available by the middle of this decade, but admits much work needs to be done.

John Capp GM director of Global Active Safety Electronics and Innovation said:  "People have dreamed of having self-driving cars for decades, but having that capability will be a major adjustment for people when it is first introduced.

"This study is helping GM and its research partners determine the best methods for keeping drivers engaged."

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