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Ahead of the Curve Auto Supplier Blog

November 13, 2013

Michigan Ready to Pass Autonomous Vehicle Legislation (SB 169 and SB 663)

Legislation advancing the research and operation of “autonomous” vehicles may be advanced out of the state Senate to the House of Representatives as early as Thursday of this week.  SB 169 is the product of months of negotiations among the bill sponsor, Sen. Mike Kowall (R-White Lake) and stakeholders such as automobile manufacturers, auto suppliers and others interested in autonomous vehicles technology. The latest substitute for SB 169 provides that a manufacturer of automated technology is allowed to conduct research and testing of an automated motor vehicle as long as:
  • The vehicle is operated only by an employee, contractor or other person designated by the manufacturer;
  • An individual is present in the vehicle while it is being operated and the individual has the ability to monitor the vehicle and, if necessary, immediately take control of the vehicle’s movements; and
  • The individual operating the vehicle and the individual who is present in the vehicle are licensed in Michigan to operate a motor vehicle.
SB 169 also amends the Motor Vehicle Code to define a number of terms such as “automated motor vehicle,” “manufacturer of automated technology,” and “upfitter” (a new term), and adds a person who operates an automated motor vehicle to the definition of “operator.”  Moreover, the legislation requires a manufacturer to carry insurance coverage in compliance with Chapter 31 of the Insurance Code.  For the entire text of SB 169, please click here. SB 169 is tie-barred to SB 663, also sponsored by Sen. Kowall.  SB 663 limits the liability of a manufacturer or subcomponent system supplier.  Specifically, SB 663 provides that, unless a defect from which damages result was present in the vehicle when it was manufactured, a manufacturer is not liable in a product liability action for damages resulting from conversion of a vehicle, installation of equipment or modification of equipment to convert the vehicle to an automated motor vehicle.  Similarly, with regard to suppliers, SB 663 provides that, unless a defect from which damages result was present in a component when it was installed by a supplier, a supplier is not liable in a product liability action for damages resulting from modification of the equipment to convert the vehicle to an automated motor vehicle.  For the entire text of SB 663, please click here. Stay tuned to find out more about this legislation as the legislative process continues to move forward.

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