Michigan doesn't want to be left behind on the proverbial autonomous transport train. In an effort to boost research and bring autonomous vehicle development to the state, Michigan's state senate unanimously approved legislation that opens up restrictions on autonomous driving and technology.

Four bills, backed by General Motors, Ford, and bipartisan lawmakers, passed unopposed through Michigan's legislature. Restrictions that limited autonomous driving on public roads to testing purposes will be lifted, meaning autonomous vehicles can be driving on state roads for any reason. According to Crain's Detroit Business, the move is the first of its kind and puts the state in competition with California, Arizona, and Nevada. Michigan lawmakers believe it's an important step in establishing the state as a leader in autonomous technology.

In addition to lifting restrictions on autonomous testing, the bills provide extra protection to mechanics who work on autonomous vehicles. Also, the bills provide clearance to turn the unused Willow Run automotive factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan, into the American Center for Mobility. This large facility is intended to be a testbed for autonomous research.

Although the senate approved the legislation, the bills still need to pass through the house before they can be put into law. Michigan is currently one of seven states with laws regulating autonomous driving.

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