Proos: Innovative ‘driverless’ vehicle bills zoom through Senate

Lawmaker tours future American Center for Mobility site

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate recently approved legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. John Proos, to promote autonomous vehicle research and development in the state.

With 76 percent of all North American automotive research and development occurring here, Michigan is a national leader in developing, testing and implementing new technologies that have the potential to substantially improve safety on our roads,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph, a member of the Legislative Auto Caucus. “While today’s cars are the safest ever built, crashes remain the leading cause of death for children in America and 90 percent of car accidents are the result of human error.

“This legislation is about ensuring Michigan is at the forefront of safety innovation that could save lives by preventing crashes in the first place.”

Senate Bills 995-998 would update Michigan’s current autonomous vehicle laws to allow auto makers, suppliers and all other businesses to engage in “real world” testing and operation to determine the technology needed to safely introduce these vehicles into the marketplace. As technology emerges, auto manufacturers will be able to operate the vehicles on public roads as long as an operator is able to supervise and control the vehicle.

The bills also allow for the creation of the 300-acre American Center for Mobility at the abandoned Willow Run manufacturing site. On Wednesday, Proos visited the facility that will be home to businesses testing ‘driverless’ vehicles and assisting in the development of the standards that will govern the future implementation of automated vehicles and trucks.

Proos also co-sponsored Senate Resolution 31 last year to support adoption of Intelligent Transportation System technologies throughout the state, further research into vehicle communication systems, and testing and operation of connected and autonomous vehicles.

“Autonomous and connected-car technologies are the next steps in improving the safety of our roads — by helping remove human error and enabling vehicles to communicate with each other and the road,” Proos said. “The idea that your car will be able to drive itself and be smart enough to protect you from harm is no longer something in a science fiction movie — and it’s becoming a reality due to Michigan’s outstanding engineering minds and skilled manufacturing workers.”

Proos is a member of the governor-appointed MiSTEM Advisory Council and noted this emerging technology in Michigan as yet another reason to focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as well as career and technical education (CTE) efforts in schools and prepare students for their future careers.

Proos said that more than two dozen automobile manufacturers and suppliers are already conducting research that will lead to a successful launch of these vehicles as well as pledging to voluntarily include collision avoidance technology in their cars as standard equipment. In less than a decade, roughly half of all the cars on the road will feature the technology.

SBs 995-998 have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.


Editor’s note: The above photographs are available by clicking on the images or by visiting Proos’ photowire at

Audio comments by Proos will be available on the senator’s website at