December Automotive Industry Roundup: 2016 Ends on a High Note

December 17, 2016 by Chantelle Dubois

A look at the highlights in the automotive industry at the close of 2016.

2016 has been a year full of advancements in the automotive industry. The end of the year closes out strong with autonomous vehicles taking an unprecedented step towards becoming mainstream.

The automotive industry has seen some ups and downs over the past few years. In 2016 especially, it has been an interesting year for driver-assisted and driverless vehicles. With new state laws in Michigan, Samsung throwing in its hat into the industry, and an innovative design competition for students currently being planned, 2016 ends on a high note with plenty to look forward to in 2017.

Fully Autonomous Vehicles Legal on Public Roadways in Michigan

This December, Governor Rick Snyder, signed four bills permitting fully autonomous vehicles on public roadways in the state of Michigan. This allows vehicles without drivers, without steering wheels, and without pedals to operate on state roads. The new legislation makes Michigan the most progressive state in the USA when it comes to automotive vehicle regulation.

Currently, California requires automated vehicles to have steering wheels and break pads to operate on public roads.


Governor Rick Snyder signing bills 995, 996, 997, and 998. Image courtesy of Detroit News.


As the birthplace of the affordable automotive vehicle, it seems fitting that Michigan is paving the way with this new legislation. The bill is encompassing and includes provisions for when companies begin to implement on-demand autonomous vehicle fleets, such as Uber or Google. It is hoped that, with this future-facing legislation, innovation in the driverless vehicle industry is not impeded.

It is also hoped that legislation to create safety guidelines will help skeptical members of the public be more accepting of this relatively new driverless vehicle technology. 

Samsung Enters the Automotive Industry

Samsung has made its mark on the tech world with its popular, innovative smart phones and home electronics. Now the company is turning its focus to the automotive tech industry.

This year, Samsung made a deal to acquire Harman International Industries Inc. for a cool $8 billion. Harman is a US-based automotive electronics company which produces sound systems, entertainment systems, and touch screen panels for vehicles. It is reported to be the largest deal made by a Korean company with an overseas partner.


The interior of a vehicle equipped with Harman's integrated infotainment system. Image courtesy of Harman Industries Inc.


If that alone hasn’t convinced you that Samsung is serious about its ambitions, it is also reported that the company has signed an agreement to produce semiconductors for Tesla Motors. It is rumored that the contract outlines plans for Samsung to produce Application-Specific Integrated Circuit systems (ASICs) so that the company can eventually develop its own System-on-a-Chip (SoC).

GM and SAE International Partner Up in New AutoDrive Challenge

If you are a college student studying engineering, you may very well have familiarity with the Society of Automotive Engineer’s (SAE) competitions, such as Formula SAE, Baja SAE, and Aero SAE.

General Motors and SAE International are now collaborating on a three-year competition, which will challenge college students to compete by developing and demonstrating fully autonomous vehicles.

The competition will require a range of disciplines to tackle real-world problems in the driverless vehicle industry using concepts such as computer vision, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

Ten colleges and universities selected to compete from the USA and Canada will be announced in April 2017. Universities are selected strategically, with established programs and expertise in automated vehicle technology being a favoring factor. GM will provide the select teams with a Chevrolet Bolt for the competition.


The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle. Image courtesy of Chevrolet.