Detroit, Michigan may revive the “Motor City” moniker as the state becomes the first to enact regulations on the sale and testing of driverless cars.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently signed one of the first regulations regarding autonomous vehicles that defines how driverless cars may be used on public roads for testing and commercial purposes.
While a notable step in making driverless cars a safe and viable commercial reality, the fact that this law is a piece of Michigan legislation isn’t much of a surprise – the state and its jewel, Detroit, boast a hearty history rooted in manufacturing.
Motor City Mecca
At its height, Detroit was home to over a hundred domestic and foreign auto giants alike, the famous Ford assembly line that gave birth to modern manufacturing was first employed in the city, and by the 1960s, one in six Americans was employed by the auto industry in some capacity.
Although the city’s fall from grace is partially due to overspecialization, partially due to planned obsolescence, many fear that Detroit’s decline may be a microcosm of what is to come for the rest of the world: thousands of unemployed due to automation.
With the new regulations, however, Michigan is leveraging existing infrastructures from Motor City past and integrating them into next-gen solutions.For Michigan and Detroit, the incentives have changed; the objective for policy and automakers alike is not to make sales number one via competition, but to make the city and its industry number one via cooperation.Click To Tweet
More than reviving it’s Motor City past, Michigan is working to redefine its future by integrating existing resources into state-of-the-art technologies. Rather than playing catch up, Michigan is blazing the trail.
Back in the Driver’s Seat; Driverless Cars
As Uber and Alphabet dedicate more and more research and development to commercially viable driverless cars, both business leaders and policymakers in Michigan have a vested interest in maintaining Detroit as the epicenter of auto manufacturing and vehicle innovation.
Therefore, for Michigan and Detroit, the incentives have changed from purely economic in the short term to establishing the foundations for more comprehensive long-term growth.
The objective for policy and automakers alike has shifted from making sales number one via competition to making the city and its industry number one via cooperation.
For example, in drafting the law, the state drew upon a diverse pool of resources spanning both the public and private sectors.
First, industry experts from traditional automakers like Toyota and General Motors were consulted along with what could be viewed as competitors like Google and driverless ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.
The state also called upon the immense resources offered by its own highly-ranking University of Michigan, which has designed a fully-functional proving ground for testing driverless cars on its campus.
Therefore, this new law highlights an emerging business culture, centered around innovation that will become the standard in Industry 4.0. This is a collaborative effort among industry, government, and universities in order to use all available resources to design the most comprehensive, next-gen solution.
With more perspectives and resources working on a problem, timelines for research and product development could be significantly compressed, which will only deliver higher quality goods to market faster.