Magna, Continental Become First to Send Autonomous Cars Across International Borders

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【Summary】Global automotive suppliers Magna and Continental took two vehicles, a Cadillac ATS and a Chrysler 300, that were equipped with driverless technology from Detroit to Ontario.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Aug 10, 2017 9:00 AM PT
Magna, Continental Become First to Send Autonomous Cars Across International Borders

Automakers and technology companies haven taken to various cities around the United States to test vehicles with driverless technology, as cities seem to be prime locations for autonomous tech to thrive. But self-driving companies in the U.S. have stuck to major cities in the country to test self-driving tech. None have ventured across international borders with cars fitted with autonomous tech and regulatory issues may be the cause. 

Magna, Continental Cross Borders

According to a report by Car and Driver, Magna and Continental, the latter of which is working with Baidu and Bosch to develop driverless technology, completed a 350-mile trip that saw the companies go from Detroit to Ontario. The demonstration, as the outlet claims, was difficult on both the technical and regulatory aspects that are holding autonomous vehicles back. 

The ATS sedan, which was fitted with technology from Magna, and the 300, which featured tech from Continental, both set off from Detroit and crossed into Canada through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. Once in Windsor, Ontario, as Car and Driver reports, the vehicles headed east, then north toward Sarnia, before crossing the Blue Water Bridge and returning to the U.S. 

While the trip seems like a straightforward journey to showcase new tech, the automobile manufacturers, as the outlet claims, attempted to reveal the politics behind the emerging technology, as the ATS sedan is built in Michigan, while the Chrysler is from Ontario, which is where Magna is headquartered. 

Officials and executives from both companies believe the demonstration is the first of its kind where autonomous vehicles drove across an international border, which is an incredible milestone for the emerging tech. The federal government has taken the first few steps towards helping driverless cars come out, but individual states, like Texas have done a lot to help automakers and companies test vehicles in the state. Adding international travel, as Car and Driver claims, will complicate the matter for everyone in the U.S. 

What's Possible When States Open Roads

The demonstration, according to the outlet, reveals what's possibly when states open their roads up to autonomous cars. Michigan, for instance, is easygoing when it comes to self-driving cars, while Ontario requires companies to obtain special permission to test vehicles in the province. Individuals from both governments contacted U.S. Customs and Border Protection to make sure that the vehicles could travel both ways freely. 

"We were working very closely with Customs, and they were very interested in figuring out how they should interact with this," said Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). "We didn't have any issues, and they were interested and engaged." 

The demonstration, as Steudle stated, opened up a lot of unknowns about how governments will regulate driverless cars. "That's all possible, and I think there's a whole bunch of issues that haven't been explored," said Steudle. "How does it approach the border station and how does it know where to stop? It's interesting because we're so focused on the technology. But there also is this side of it." 

To help improve the process for future self-driving cars heading towards Canada from Michigan, officials from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and MDOT signed a memorandum of understanding, as Car and Driver claims, that would see both agencies work together on development of self-driving and connected cars. This is the second agreement of its kind between the two agencies. 

via: Car and Driver

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