Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

Detroit property proposed as autonomous vehicle testing site

The Willow River site, formerly the location of a Ford Motor Company WWII bomber plant and later a GM powertrain plant could become a center for testing driverless cars, with the hope of making Detroit and Michigan a center for the development of this new technology.

Autonomous vehicles could be the next transformative technology of this century. It is easy to see how they could have an effect similar to the development of the internet and cellphones.

With an autonomous vehicle, the concept of the automobile would change. You may not even need to "own" one, instead calling for a car at your home or workplace with an app on your cellphone. This could alter how we design streets, build homes and apartments and even cities.

It would alter the insurance business as liability would shift and the likelihood of accidents would greatly decrease. Medical services would change, as the millions of crashes would likely be dramatically reduced and motor vehicle deaths might become rare as those from commercial aviation crashes.

For these vehicles to function, streets and roads will have to be reengineered, with a new use of sensors and other control systems, vastly more sophisticated than current stoplights. And they will have to be installed in millions of miles of streets, highways and interstates. The business opportunities will be immense.

For Michigan, the effect could be just as great, as design and operation of these vehicles would be incredibly complex and the talent and know-how that such systems would need could transform other aspects of education, business opportunities and employment within the state.

Source: crainsdetroit.com, "Plan takes shape to transform Willow Run plant site for driverless-car testing," DUSTIN WALSH, February 2, 2016

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