Who's at the Wheel?

This article tracks progress that is being made in autonomous vehicle (AV) testing, with discussions of Mcity, a test track in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as a place where Ford engineers are testing their automobiles' reactions to various situations. Those on the side of autonomous vehicle technology believe that it will flourish best if left without the burdens of heavy regulation. In fact, regulation addressing the rules of the road for driverless vehicles is not consistent from state to state, as evidenced in this article with the examples of California and Nevada, who have already passed laws explicitly authorizing driverless vehicles, while other states have not. Nonetheless, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has yet to finalize rules for public use of AVs, due to a lack of data on their usage. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration in January 2016 announced a goal of proposing uniform national best practices for the auto industry, as well as state policymakers, within six months, and it is likely they will look to California and Nevada as models. AV manufacturers have moved ahead with vehicle testing, without waiting for permission from state governments, as illustrated by the presence of Google's testing ground for its autonomous fleet in Austin, Texas, with no explicit authorization from Texas lawmakers. Challenges to AV developers lie deep in state vehicle codes, such as the one in New York that requires that drivers always keep one hand on the steering wheel. Yet in spite of a lack of legal clarity when it comes to this movement, all parties seem to agree that safety will dramatically improve, as it is estimated that human error contributes to more than 90 percent of the deaths of roughly 34,000 Americans who die in car crashes annually.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Figures; Photos;
  • Pagination: pp 32-38
  • Serial:
    • Governing
    • Volume: 28
    • Issue Number: 6
    • Publisher: e.Republic Incorporated
    • ISSN: 0894-3842

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01599708
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 4 2016 2:29PM