MICHauto Announces New Research Number, Michigan Home to 2,200 Automotive R&D Facilities

Michigan has long been regarded as the epicenter of the automotive industry and now the state has a new number to celebrate. First announced at the MICHauto Annual Meeting, held in conjunction with the 2017 MICHauto Summit, Michigan is home to 2,200 facilities that conduct automotive research, design, engineering, testing and validation.

The new number is the result of a thorough examination of Michigan’s automotive technical expertise conducted by the Detroit Regional Chamber and reveals a much larger presence than previously reported, reinforcing Michigan’s global leadership in automotive engineering, research and design. Previously, 375 automotive R&D facilities were frequently sourced as housed in Michigan by media as well as industry and government leaders.

The new number was announced by Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the Chamber.

“The findings point to an industry that is growing and further underscores the critical need for talent development in automotive and mobility technology to support the needs of today and the future,” said Stevens.

Attendees also heard highlights from MICHauto’s 2017 Automobility Career Perception Survey, which examines the perception trends of 900 youth and influencers inside and outside of Michigan. Results show that, while perceptions of the industry are changing in Michigan, more work is needed to promote the state’s automotive and mobility leadership to youth and influencers in other states. View the survey summary here.

Additionally, MICHauto unveiled a new online content portal titled “Driven.” The site will shape and position the narrative surrounding automobility in Southeast Michigan, offering content relating to the people, assets and companies that are establishing the region and its automotive sector, as a global leader in next-generation mobility transportation.

Also during the Annual Meeting, Tim Yerdon, outgoing chair of MICHauto’s talent committee, was named this year’s “Volunteer of the Year” recipient.

“There is no better time to be in this industry than right now and I am so excited to be a part of it,” Yerdon said.

Yerdon was recognized for his efforts to showcase the industry’s growth through events like Discover Auto, which helps connect college students with leading automotive manufacturers and suppliers in need of talent.

The MICHauto Annual Meeting was sponsored by PwC.

Legal Experts: Liability, Privacy and Cybersecurity Challenges Ahead for Autonomous Technology Adoption

As more automated and driverless technologies are brought to market, questions regarding liability, privacy, data management and cybersecurity could present myriad legal challenges for automakers and suppliers in the not-so-distant future. That was a key message legal experts stressed in a candid conversation on “rights and regulations” on the Automobili-D stage at the North American International Auto Show on Thursday.

Kicking off the discussion, Patrick Seyferth, partner at Bush Seyferth & Paige PLLC, cautioned that the use of loaded language, specifically promoting autonomous vehicles as “saving lives,” should be used sparingly. Citing examples like the death of a Tesla autopilot driver, Seyferth said there is a common misperception that autonomous vehicles will totally eliminate human error and reduce accidents from texting, drunkenness, and other forms of distracted driving. In reality, according to Seyferth, automated vehicles shift human error from the driving to the programming and design.

“I’m not suggesting that autonomous technology is bad, I just think we need to pay a little more attention to what safety advocates are saying,” he said.

Tom Manganello, partner at Warner Norcross & Judd, disagreed with Seyferth’s analysis of safety, stating autonomous tech will be a key catalyst to improving safety on roadways across the world.

“Fatalities have gone up 6,000 per year at a time when cars are the safest they’ve ever been from a passive protection standpoint. So what’s the problem? The problem is people. Will automated vehicle technology prevent all deaths? No. What we will see is a rapid reduction in serious injuries and deaths the more the driver can be taken out of the system,” he said.

Discussion also focused on cybersecurity risk and data protection.

“When you think connectivity, you have to look at your vulnerabilities,” said Jennifer Dukarski, attorney with Butzel Long. “Imagine a nefarious person being able to hack a fleet of police vehicles to learn their exact location.”

Despite the challenges, Dukarski said Michigan is well-positioned to lead in the testing and development of connected and autonomous vehicles with the passage of the Safe Autonomous Vehicles (SAVE) Act.

The panel was moderated by Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto.