MACKINAC ISLAND (WWJ) – Big news coming out of day one of the Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference: the unveiling of a new marketing campaign to promote the state of Michigan as the center of “next generation mobility.”

Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Director Kirk Steudle spoke Wednesday about the branding effort they’re calling “Planet M.” The goal, he said, is to promote the state as the world’s center for innovative transportation and mobility research of the future.

In a nutshell: self-driving cars.

Steudle says Michigan has a great story to tell about mobility research happening right here.

“Many of you probably don’t know that in Southeast Michigan is the largest deployment of roadside units of smart highways of anywhere in the country,” Steudle said.

“We’re on the plan to produce 125 miles of smart freeways. By the end of this year we’ll have 155 roadside units that provide communications between the cars and the infrastructure.”

Steudle said the ongoing re-construction of I-275 in Western Wayne and Oakland counties is the latest section of roadway to be equipped with so-called “smart” technology.

The tagline for the Planet M campaign is: “Michigan. Where big ideas in mobility are born.”

“Planet M represents Michigan’s future as a leader in mobility and the innovations that will continue to attract investment in our state,” Gov. Rick Snyder told a crowd of business and political leaders on Mackinac Island.  “Michigan has always been the automotive industry leader, and as the transportation industry evolves, our state’s influence will continue to shape the way the world moves.”

[Learn more about Planet M]

General Motors President and CEO Dan Ammann wants to see quick passage of legislation that would clear the way for more self-driving car development in Michigan.

Speaking to reporters following the announcement, Ammann said states are competing to be a hub of autonomous car development, but Michigan has a natural advantage.

“We would like nothing more than for Michigan as a state to be at the forefront of this with us, so we can work together, that we can do a lot of the development work here, create the jobs here, you know, have the technology here,” Ammann said. “And we think there’s a great opportunity to do that, and it will be a missed opportunity if we don’t. ”

Ammann said GM has been learning lot in its recent joint ventures with tech companies, and he feels those tech companies have learned a lot from GM.

 

[More from the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference]

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