Michigan governor Rick Snyder has signed four bills into law which would create the first comprehensive statewide self-driving regulations in the US.
The bills, introduced in the state Senate in May, effectively amend the existing Michigan Motor Vehicle requirements as well as another law that, until now, barred automated driving in the state, recode.net reported.
This means the home of the country's auto industry is now allowing not just the testing but also the deployment of on-demand networks of self-driving cars and eventually the sale of autonomous cars, the report said, cautioning that a closer read of one of the bills shows that only motor vehicle manufacturers are allowed to operate an on-demand network of self-driving cars.
That, recode.net said, means Apple, Uber and Google – which only manufacture prototypes in some cases and don't distribute motor vehicles – and companies like them can't launch an Uber for self-driving cars in Michigan unless the companies work with traditional automakers to develop those cars.
According to recode.net, Uber, Lyft and others consider people won't own cars in the future and will largely commute and move around using on-demand networks.
"Google and Apple wouldn't be classified as a motor vehicle manufacturer until they have vehicles on the open market that meet [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's] Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards," a Michigan DOT spokesperson told recode.net. "For now, they would be classified as a manufacturer of automated vehicle technology and could become a motor vehicle manufacturer if they met the requirements."
A Google representative said the company's self-driving arm is recognised as a manufacturer of record by the NHTSA.
MDOT Intelligent Transportation Systems programme manager Matt Smith later told recode.net non-traditional automakers like Google, Uber, and Apple would be allowed to test and deploy their vehicles on public roads if the companies either work with a motor vehicle manufacturer to develop and produce those cars or get their vehicle or prototype approved by NHTSA.