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.  

Autonomous Technology Bill Passes US House

The reality of autonomous vehicles became a little more real last week when the US House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that will make it significantly easier for automakers to get self driving technology on the road. As Reuters reported, The Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution Act, also known as the SELF DRIVE Act, was passed by a two-thirds majority on Wednesday, September 6, 2017. The bill was passed with bipartisan support, and is actually one of the most agreed upon pieces of legislation in Congress. The bill now goes to the Senate, where lawmakers have been working on a similar piece of legislation. It is the first significant piece of legislation of its kind.

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The bill speeds up the deployment of self driving cars onto the streets by reducing regulations for automakers. Essentially, it provides exemptions for standards “normal” cars would have to meet before seeing the streets. According to Wired, if the bill becomes law, federal guidelines will determine what standards autonomous vehicles have to meet, and individual states will have very little power to block self driving cars from hitting the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be the organization to regulate vehicle design, construction, and performance. Manufacturers will then need to prove that self driving cars are as safe as existing vehicles. States can still set regulations regarding licensing, registration, and insurance, but they will have very little (if any) say as to what goes inside of the car. The legislation will allow for 25,000 autonomous vehicles to hit the road in the first year, which automakers hope will be 2020. This cap will increase drastically, allowing for 100,000 autonomous vehicles to be on the streets by the third year.

The tech industry, which is normally opposed to government regulation, is actually very welcoming of this bill. Up until this point, there were no federal guidelines regarding autonomous technology. This is due in part to the fact that there really aren’t that many autonomous vehicles in existence, so nobody is quite sure how to regulate them. As a result, states were left to set their own standards. This became a source of confusion as different states had different definitions, priorities, and purposes regarding self driving vehicles, making for a wide variety of guidelines throughout the country. As automakers would like their vehicles to be driven in all states, regulations that change across state lines would make this difficult. Additionally, companies based in California claimed their state had some of the most restrictive guidelines, making it difficult for them to test their technology.

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As such, automakers, as well as business groups, and advocates for the blind have been heavily pushing for legislation such as this. Companies such as Volkswagen even began taking self driving cars to Washington D.C., having lawmakers test them out in the hope that it could help persuade them. These groups claim that self driving cars will make roads safer by reducing the amount of accidents caused by human error. Consumer advocate groups, on the other hand, have pushed back on the legislation, as they fear it is too lenient, doesn’t do enough to protect drivers, and will actually make roads more dangerous.

This legislation will be hitting a little closer to home, as U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao will be in Ann Arbor, Michigan to unveil new self driving guidelines on September 19th. As The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog previously discussed, Ann Arbor is a hub of autonomous vehicle technology, as it is home to the self driving playground known as MCity.

Having autonomous technology legislation unanimously passing the house is an exciting step forward for autonomous vehicles. Making it easier for car manufacturers to get self driving cars on the roads means they are one step closer to being a part of everyday life. However, as self driving cars become a reality, so do the new safety challenges they present. As a result, manufacturers, and lawmakers will be responsible for balancing driving innovation with driver safety. After all, autonomous or human controlled, no one wants to be involved in a car crash.


Car accidents happen everyday, and although self driving vehicles looming on the horizon, motor vehicle accidents are still possible in the present day. If you have been injured in a car accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation. 

Michigan Helps Lead the Country In Autonomous Vehicle Regulations

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Trying to keep up with the fast-growing autonomous car industry, more than 50 bills have been introduced in 20 states to establish some type of regulation for self-driving vehicles. The Detroit Free Press predicts that autonomous vehicles will transform business models by reducing personal car ownership, restructuring urban and suburban development, and eliminating millions of transportation jobs while at the same time creating many more jobs. Michigan was one of the first states that adopted legislation to make it easier for automakers to test self-driving vehicles on a public road without a driver. Governor Rick Snyder said in December, “We should we proud we’re leading the world, right here in Michigan.” 

Legislation in Michigan also “allows automated platoons of trucks to travel together at set speeds” and “allows networks of self-driving cars that can pick up passengers.” Additionally, Ford’s self-driving Fusions and GM’s self-driving Chevrolet Bolts have been cleared for more testing. 

Michigan is not alone in passing autonomous vehicle legislation. 21 other states and Washington D.C. have also passed legislation or adopted regulations based on a Governor’s executive order. They are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New York, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

However, the lack of uniformity among states may be confusing for owners of self-driving cars and could potentially harm innovation. Chan Lieu, an advisor to the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets (whose members include former Google driverless car project Waymo, automakers Ford and Volvo, and ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft) mentions, “If you had 50 different requirements for 50 different states, each state (might do it) different. It’s going to be very, very difficult to build a vehicle to be effectively sold across the country.” This is all the more reason to distinguish states such as Michigan, as leaders in regulating the autonomous vehicle industry. 

Currently, “states are balancing a desire to be viewed as beacons of innovation while also seeking to protect their residents from technology that remains unproven on a large scale.” Federal regulations, on the other hand, may take years to propose and implement new rules on autonomous cars. This timeline may clash with the fast pace self-driving technology is moving at. 
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In the past, individual states have regulated driver behavior while the federal government has regulated the vehicle itself. A House subcommittee was scheduled to meet on June 27, 2017 to discuss several drafts of 14 self-driving bills in Washington D.C. Gary Peters, a US senator representing Michigan, said legislation should be introduced in the next few weeks that will lead to “a complete re-write of federal regulations for motor vehicles when you take the driver out of the car.” US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in Detroit, Michigan last month, that the presidential administration will reveal revised self-driving guidelines within the next few months, in order to “incorporate feedback and improvements recommended by numerous stakeholders.” 

Yet with automakers quickly developing autonomous technology, it will likely be up to individual states to create updated regulations as improvements are made. Safety is the main priority for states looking to support advancements while at the same time minimizing motor vehicle collisions. Jessica Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the California Department of Motor Vehicles, said, “We know this technology can save lives. It can mean mobility for millions of people. So we see all the advantages to it, but at the same time we’re tasked with making sure this technology is safe.” 

With Toyota and the University of Michigan collaborating on autonomous vehicles and the US economy preparing for big changes from self-driving cars, it is no surprise that the state of Michigan is heading towards a safe and supportive environment for future technology. In Detroit, major automakers are the backbone of autonomous improvements. USA TODAY Network reports that GM announced the production on 130 self-driving Chevrolet Bolt test vehicles at its plant in Orion township last month, fulfilling the company’s promise to help maintain Michigan’s leadership in the autonomous car industry. Ford is also among automakers that have proposed to launch a fully autonomous vehicle by 2021. 

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There is no doubt that the Great Lakes State will do innovative things in the coming years as it helps develop and regulate self-driving cars. However, safety is vital when testing new technologies, as even seemingly perfect dream vehicles may put passengers at risk for being involved in motor vehicle crashes. Above all, autonomous vehicles are breaking new ground in the transportation industry, and it will be up to lawmakers-at both state and national levels-to keep up. 


The State of Michigan is the birthplace of cars, and continues to make strides in the automobile industry. As self-driving technology rapidly develops, states like Michigan are working to regulate autonomous vehicles at a similar pace. Safety remains the main priority, as no state wants to compromise the lives of citizens because of a cool car with no one driving it. If you or someone you know has been involved in a severe motor vehicle collision, please contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Driverless Shuttles Expected To Launch at U-M This Fall

Come Fall 2017, students at the University of Michigan (U-M) will be riding to class via self-driving shuttles! Nicknamed Arma, two fully automated and electric, 15-passenger shuttles will launch on U-M’s North Campus, transporting students, faculty, and staff between the engineering campus and the North Campus Research Complex on Plymouth Road. The Detroit Free Press emphasizes that the shuttles will be used to study how passengers react to regular vehicles on the road, as a way of gaining perspective on consumer acceptance of autonomous technology.

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The shuttles can travel up to 35 mph and are powered by a 33 kilowatt per hour battery pack that takes 5-8 hours to charge. They have seating capacity for nine people, but can fit more if passengers hold onto hand rails. The Arma shuttles use an advanced global positioning system to track information from up to 17 satellites and are accurate to the inch on roads, even proven to be reliable in light rain and snow that characterize much of Michigan’s weather. The driver-less vehicles will drive themselves on University of Michigan roadways, alongside regular cars driven by the public, on a 2 mile circular route, every 10 minutes.

The shuttles have been developed by Mcity, the University of Michigan’s public-private partnership for mobility research, and were manufactured by French firm Navya. Mcity is funded by the university, federal grants, and about 65 automakers and other companies. 

Huei Peng, the director of Mcity and a professor of mechanical engineering at U-M, said to the Detroit Free Press, “This first-ever automated shuttle service on campus is a critical research project that will help us understand the challenges and opportunities presented by this type of mobility service and how people interact with it.” 

Peng commented that the shuttles are just the latest innovation from Mcity. “The university has a record of innovation in virtually every aspect of mobility...That breadth and depth are some of the reasons why we were so well-positioned to create Mcity and provide a safe, controlled environment for vehicle testing.” Mcity's website also explains to the public how autonomous vehicles operate, discussing radar, light direction, and cameras to gather data and utilize sensors for efficient and safe driving. 

Navya Technologies on the other hand, is a 2-year-old company based in Lyon, France. In June, the firm announced its plans to build the Arma shuttles at a new plant in Ann Arbor. Navya is aiming to build 20 vehicles by the end of this year and hopes to sell them to commercial buyers. 

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Henri Coron, Navya’s vice president for sales, said, “To create a market, we need a vision and a strong partner. The important thing is to create this market in the US.” It should be noted that Arma shuttles are already driven on roads around the world, having been designed for theme parks and large campus-like environments such as the University of Michigan. 

The autonomous shuttles will start by running on U-M roads during business hours. The main goal of testing the new shuttles is to monitor consumer interest and acceptance, at no cost to riders. There will be a safety monitor person in the vehicle at all times, along with emergency stop buttons for passengers to use if needed. 

The self-driving vehicle industry is fast-growing, and Michigan is continuing to prove that we are a step ahead of the pack. While the future of autonomous is very near, in the current driving environment, drivers must continue to pay attention to traffic rules and take safety precautions when riding in vehicles, including the Arma shuttle. The last thing anyone wants is to be injured in an automobile accident. Staying informed of new car technology developments, including the latest self-driving technology, can offer a better road experience for everyone, now and in the future. 


The University of Michigan is preparing to take another leap into the world of self-driving cars with the launch of autonomous shuttles on campus this fall. However, student safety as well as the safety of other drivers on the road, will remain of utmost importance. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle crash, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.