Driverless Shuttles Coming to Detroit

Autonomous vehicles may still seem like a thing of the future, but that future is going to be in Detroit sooner than some may expect. Starting this fall, you can see self-driving shuttles transporting passengers throughout the city, but only for a select few riders, and for a very limited amount of time. May Mobility, an Ann Arbor based start-up company, is set to begin testing autonomous vehicles in downtown Detroit in October.

The Detroit News reported that Quicken Loans founder and downtown developer, Dan Gilbert, announced the project at the Technology in Motion conference in Detroit on September 6, 2017. Employees of Gilbert’s companies, Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures, will ride the shuttles back and forth from their offices to parking areas in the central business district. Gilbert said the program is being funded entirely by his company and without any government grants. The shuttles will run from the First National building in Cadillac Square, to the Brick Town parking garage at Beaubien and Fort streets. The set path of the shuttles includes Woodward, Monroe, Beaubien, and East Congress. The shuttles will get a total of 15 hours of testing, operating October 9-13, from 7 PM to 10 PM. All employees of Gilbert's are invited to participate in the program.

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While autonomous vehicles have been tested in our city before, this is the first time they will be transporting people. According to Crain's Detroit Business, the company is testing two, six-passenger vehicles that are manufactured by Minnesota based company Polaris. Polaris describes the shuttles as “very comfortable,” with each passenger getting their own door and their own seat. For those who find the idea of a driverless shuttle a bit nerve racking, the company is putting a safety driver on each shuttle. The safety driver will not be operating the vehicle, but can override it if need be. However, the company hopes to not need safety drivers in the future. More so, the company has been driving routes in central Detroit for months, in order to gather as much data as possible.

These aren’t the first autonomous passenger shuttles to come to Southeast Michigan. The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC recently wrote about driverless shuttles at the University of Michigan. Starting this fall, 15-passenger autonomous shuttles that can reach speeds of up to 35 mph have been providing students with a new way to get to class. The shuttles travel between University of Michigan's North Campus (home to MCity, a testing ground for autonomous vehicles) and a nearby university research facility. The shuttles are being used to test consumer reaction to and acceptance of autonomous technology on the road.

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While the shuttles coming to Detroit are only going to be tested for a short time, they signify a larger step forward for autonomous technology. This small glance into the world of driverless vehicles in Detroit could be the beginning of something we start to see much more often. While the hope is that autonomous technology can cut down on the number of automobile accidents due to human error, there is likely still a ways to go until we reach a time with self-driving cars and no automobile accidents. However, corporations willing to invest in this technology, coupled with car manufacturers and automotive technology developers in and near Detroit, make the city the perfect playground for self driving vehicles, and can propel us forward to safer roads.

The rapidly increasing progress of autonomous vehicle technology is exciting, but it also presents challenges to drivers and traffic laws we have never seen before. As with any new automotive technology, driver safety is the most important thing. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation with an experienced car accident attorney.

Driverless Pizza Delivery In Ann Arbor

Pizza delivery in Ann Arbor, Michigan just got a lot more interesting. Starting this month, Domino’s customers in Northeast Ann Arbor have the opportunity to have their pizza delivered to them by car and car alone - no delivery man required! The Ford Motor Company and Domino’s Pizza are working together on a project to deliver pizza via autonomous vehicle, to randomly selected customers in Ann Arbor.

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According to The New York Times (NYT), Ford is using specially designed self-driving Ford Fusion Hybrids to deliver Domino’s pizza. The cars have been designed to deliver data back to Ford regarding how smoothly the car travels through the city and makes the deliveries. That data is extremely important to the company, as they are hoping to start producing fully autonomous vehicles, without steering wheels or pedals, by 2021. It’s an especially daunting task as the NYT reports that Ford has been viewed as relatively "lagging" in the autonomous technology game compared to other car manufacturers. So, Ford may be hoping this pizza delivery experiment will help to put them ahead.

Domino’s Pizza, a company founded near Ann Arbor, is more interested in what happens specifically during the last few minutes of the delivery. What will happen when customers are faced with a self-driving car and no delivery man? Will customers be unhappy about having to come out of their houses to interact with the delivery car? What happens if the customer can’t figure out how to get the pizza out of the car, or there’s a problem with the order? This is all information Domino’s, and the autonomous service industry as a whole, need to know in order to move forward with driverless delivery vehicles. One thing customers are sure to love is that no driver means no tip!

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So, what about the delivery vehicle itself? Well, these aren’t your standard delivery cars, on the inside or the outside. The cars are white with large black lettering that says “self-driving” and “experimental,” in an effort to avoid as many car collisions as possible. On the roof of the car are sensors, software, fusions, and radar laser beams that are all used to scan the road and send data back to Ford. The car is even able to text the customer when it is approaching the delivery address. On the rear passenger side window is large red arrow that says “start here,” directing the customer to a touchscreen. Here, the customer will enter the last 4 digits of their phone number, which will open the compartment of the car that holds the food. There is space for 5 pizzas and 4 sides and each car is designed to keep the food warm during the ride.

The driverless delivery experiment was supposed to start on August 28, 2017, but was delayed due to inclement weather, since the equipment on the outside of the car cannot yet withstand heavy rain. Domino’s and Ford say they plan on continuing the experiment through September, with the cars making 3-6 deliveries a day. While the project is in testing, the cars will be manned, with both a Ford researcher who can override the vehicle in order to avoid any motor vehicle accidents, and a Domino’s employee who is there to observe the behavior of the customer. With two humans in the car until all of the autonomous kinks are ironed out, hopefully, no one in Ann Arbor will have to call a car accident lawyer!

Contrary to the popular belief that 'robots' such as self-driving cars are going to put humans out of work, Domino’s insists they are not looking to replace drivers with autonomous cars. Mr. Kelly Garcia, Domino’s senior vice president for e-commerce development, said, “We could use autonomous cars to fill in where we have a shortage of drivers, or add capacity during surges in business. We will have drivers for a long time. This is not about reducing labor costs.”

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While self-driving pizza delivery may seem outlandish to some, it’s quite possible it did not come as much of a surprise to Ann Arbor residents, since the city and the University of Michigan are home to a great deal of autonomous vehicle testing. Readers may remember The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC has written about the university’s driverless shuttles that transport students around the North Campus, as well as MCity, the university’s testing ground for self-driving cars.

Driverless food delivery is yet another leap forward for self driving technology. While many organizations are still concentrating on autonomous cars being able to transport people, companies like Ford and Domino’s are already looking ahead to the transportation of goods. If the experiment is successful, it could make way for a wide range of delivery services. Next thing you know, a Fedex truck might show up at your house with no delivery man to toss a package onto your lawn!

Self-driving cars continue to be an exciting step forward for driving technology. Presently however, no amount of innovation in the automotive industry can fully guarantee that drivers will always be safe and that auto accidents won’t happen. If you have been injured in an motor vehicle accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free legal consultation.  

Ann Arbor's Traffic Enforcement Campaign

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Two years ago, Ann Arbor, Michigan was the target of a traffic enforcement campaign intended to get drivers to stop and yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. To enforce the campaign, officers were stationed at 36 crosswalks. Within six months, Ann Arbor police made over 1,300 stops, issued 480 citation,s and 903 warnings for speeding and other violations. This has led to an 11% drop in traffic stops within Ann Arbor. 

Of course, the campaign has received complaints but, since Ann Arbor pedestrian car accidents have decreased, the city council is looking forward to implementing the same campaign at Western Michigan University (WMU). The council has assigned $150,000 to WMU in order to increase driver yielding rates at crosswalks, more importantly, mid-block pedestrian crossings. The money is budgeted to pay the policing staff for overtime, work assignments, data preparation, field reviews, project managers and improvement to infrastructure such as signs and pavement markings. The city also intends to find and work with community partners like the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition to address issues such as pedestrian safety. 

Since Ann Arbor's sidewalk ordinances are different from the rest of Michigan, the police are trying to make sure people are informed. This creates a bit of a challenge when some of the drivers who aren’t from Ann Arbor. 

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Ann Arbor Police Officer Jamie Adkins, took the time to educate citizens about mid-block pedestrian crossings and what you should do when approaching them by saying, "[These are] marked crosswalks and unmarked crosswalks that have curb cuts. There are some nuances to it in terms of if they're coming into your path versus moving away from your path, but the crux of it is that Ann Arbor requires motorists to stop for pedestrians who are waiting to cross at the crosswalk.”

"The original program's success has been found to be sustainable through follow-up research four years later,” wrote city traffic engineer, Cynthia Redinger, in her memo explaining the study.

The study has also gained recognition in Florida through Ron Van Houten, a psychology professor at WMU, who is looking to implement the study for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drivers nationwide can look forward to seeing pedestrian crosswalk ordinances being enforced for public safety through traffic citations. With the nation's growing concern of accidents caused in pedestrian crossing zones, it was only a matter of time before states took notice and started to correct the problem. 

Ann Arbor's traffic enforcement campaign has brought to light how supplementing enforcement and education can greatly improve pedestrian and motorist safety. Studies have proven, that in changing drivers attitudes when approaching and yielding at crosswalks, it can, in turn, improve traffic flow and keep accidents from occurring in pedestrian crosswalks. If you or somebody you know has been injured by a driver neglecting to adhere to crosswalk ordinances, please call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC.  Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Pedestrian Struck By Vehicle On Ann Arbor, Michigan Crosswalk

A car accident landed a 21 year old man in the hospital on Monday, April 25, 2016. MLive reported that the man was struck while crossing a crosswalk in the area of Plymouth Road and Willowtree Lane around 8:24 A.M. Police arrived on the scene not long afterwards. The Adrian, Michigan native was taken to the University of Michigan Hospital via Huron Valley Ambulance and was said to be in stable condition according to EMTs. The driver who struck him was a 42 year old Belleville, Michigan resident. Police cited the driver with a ticket for failure to yield. However, there is still no word on whether or not the man will press charges against the driver.

Ann Arbor Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

While driving, it is always very important to check crosswalks, especially in cities. Not only should drivers be on the lookout for other drivers and road obstructions but for bikers and pedestrians as well. Although this particular case did not end in death, car accidents involving walkers, bicyclists, or runners often end in serious injury or death. By looking both ways and by looking for pedestrians at crosswalks, it is very easy to save lives. Most times the driver is responsible for hitting pedestrians, and an accident like this may bury a driver in fines and jail time.

Pedestrians, although having the right away, also always need pay attention to traffic as well. Even if a pedestrian has a green arrow to walk, checking for traffic is always a good idea. Noticing a distracted driver can be the difference between life and death. Looking both ways can save your own life.

Taking chances with the odds of being struck by a vehicle at a crosswalk is an unsafe idea. Accidents always happen. Pedestrians and drivers alike need to check the flow of traffic and need to check whether or not a crosswalk is clear, before passing through. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a pedestrian or has been a pedestrian struck by a vehicle, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys are highly experienced in handling all types of motor vehicle accidents, including those involving pedestrians. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Road Rage Causes Accident on I-94 in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Michigan State Police have released a statement that road rage was the cause of an accident in Ann Arbor on Thursday, April 7, 2016. MLive reported that the three car crash occurred on I-94 near Platt Road. The altercation began when a 17-year-old Dearborn, Michigan native driving a 2016 Ford Escape tried passing a 64-year-old Ann Arbor native in a 1998 Subaru, and the Subaru driver slammed on his brakes. The altercation went on for a few miles, and ended with the two cars ramming into each other continuously causing an accident with another vehicle. A 43 year old woman was brought into the collision when her 2006 Honda was struck by the two vehicles. Luckily, she was not injured. Both of the other drivers were treated for minor injuries at the University of Michigan Health System but were said to be okay. The State Police are currently working on a report to submit to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office for review.

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This is another example of how a driver who has nothing to do with confrontation and is abiding by the law may be dragged into something they had nothing to do with, due to the recklessness of other drivers on the road. Even though the woman was not driving recklessly, like her counterparts, she was still involved in the accident and had to take time out of her day to deal with the aftermath.

Ann Arbor Car Accident Lawyer

Road rage causes a lot of accidents every year, and often most of the damage does not fall on the driver, but whatever or whoever that driver ends up hitting and damaging due to their neglectful driving habits. By failing to drive by the law and letting their emotions get the best of them, drivers who fall victim to road rage can not only injure or kill themselves, but they can also cause extreme damage to property or even injure or kill another driver on the road, who had nothing to do with the issue at hand. While driving, it is important for drivers to remember that should not let their emotions get the best of them. Also,  if a reckless driver is spotted, drivers should call the authorities and avoid the dangerous driver at all costs. Reckless drivers are a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road. 

Even if you drive safely, you can still be affected by other reckless drivers. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident that involves road rage or reckless driving, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys are highly experienced in handling all types of motor vehicle accidents, including victims of road rage and reckless driving collisions. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Pedestrian Hit By Ann Arbor Bus

A Pedestrian faces minor facial injuries after a run in with an Ann Arbor, Michgian white bus this past Tuesday, March 5, 2016. MLive reported that the incident occurred around 12:30 P.M. when a pedestrian walked out into traffic and was struck by a bus on the corner of East Liberty Street and South Fourth Street. Although the jay-walker suffered minor facial injuries, they refused any treatment. The scene was cleared by 12:45 P.M. and no citations were issued for the incident, but police implied that the collision was the pedestrian's fault because they walked into oncoming traffic.

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Ann Arbor is known for its jaywalking culture, especially around the University of Michigan’s campus. Students can be seen crossing the road wherever they feel and whenever they feel, even around oncoming traffic. This can be especially dangerous, when there is alcohol involved or at night when visibility is low and pedestrians are unlikely to be wearing reflective clothing. 

The University of Michigan has recently began making an attempt to make crossing the street safer for pedestrians, adding two separate cross walks on major streets this past year. One is on State Street and is very well marked with reflective signs and is very well lit, while the other is on South University and has flashing lights when a pedestrian hits the cross button signaling to drivers that someone is about to cross.

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Even with this new technology it is very important for drivers to always check for pedestrians diligently when driving in areas like Ann Arbor, especially around peak class times when students are out and about. On the other hand, it is also very important for pedestrians to make use of the many crosswalks that the University has put in place for walkers, instead of jaywalking. Using crosswalks allows pedestrians a far more likely chance at being spotted by a car and therefore a far more likely chance to avoid being hit by a vehicle. It is also important for pedestrians to control the volume of any music or audio that they maybe listening to if they have headphones in, especially when crossing the street. Not being able to hear an approaching car or a changing signal can easily result in a pedestrian-automobile collision.

Drivers in cities like Ann Arbor which have a similar jaywalking culture need to be very diligent to ensure they are always looking out for pedestrians and bicycle riders. Pedestrians, in turn, need to ensure they use cross walks and also should not jaywalk unless it is completely necessary, and should always look out for vehicles no matter where they are crossing the street.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys are highly experienced in handling all types of personal injury cases, including pedestrian collisions. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.