So you want to test an autonomous vehicle… Michigan moves forward; California seeks to stall Uber

Monday, December 19, 2016

On December 9, 2016, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed landmark autonomous vehicle legislation, placing Michigan as one of the most manufacturer-friendly states to develop and test driverless systems. As we noted in our August 11, 2016 Alert, this legislation is unique in that it allows testing of vehicles without the presence of driver, a direction that will significantly impact the mobility economy.

At the same time, on December 14, 2016, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has ordered a halt to the testing process for Uber Technologies, requiring the company to obtain a testing permit. Uber initiated self-driving tests for its ride-hailing service in Pittsburgh in September and sought to start testing in San Francisco this month. Under California law, a test vehicle must be permitted with insurance and under the watch of a human driver who is able to take control of the vehicle. If Uber operates without the required permit, California has threatened legal action.

NHTSA has suggested Model State Policies to avoid a patchwork of varying state requirements, but that remains a non-binding proposal for now. In the meantime, as states adopt new and ever changing regulations, companies testing driverless vehicles and components must keep a few things in mind:

  • State requirements for testing, including permits and insurance, vary significantly.
  • State motor vehicle and traffic law may also impact test vehicles.

All of these may impact a successful test sequence and subsequent product and service launches.

As your company initiates testing to enter the new mobility economy, contact your Butzel attorney to discuss state law, regulatory, and other pre-clearance issues.

Jennifer Dukarski

Steve Goodman

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