The Road To Self-Driving Cars Begins in Flint

President Robert McMahon says Kettering University taking a lead role in research and development.

Jake Neher/WDET

This year’s North American International Auto Show seems to make it pretty clear — the auto industry is getting serious about the prospect of fully autonomous vehicles hitting the roads in the not-so-distant future.

There’s an entire exhibition hall at the auto show this year dedicated to innovation in autonomous vehicle technology. And a lot of that research and development is happening right here in Michigan.

Robert McMahan is president of Kettering University in Flint. He spoke with Detroit Today producer Jake Neher at the auto show about the lead role his university is playing to get self-driving cars on the roadways.

“The automobile has become the platform technology of the 21st Century,” says McMahan. “Automobiles aren’t just mechanical devices anymore. They are rolling computers.”

He says cars driving on the roads right now have a lot of autonomous technology in them already, and that we’re well into the transition to fully autonomous vehicles.

But he says, “It’ll be a while until we get Will Smith in iRobot” handing over full control to our cars.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


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