By CAITLIN DeLUCA
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan drivers could be traveling among self-driving cars by early next year. A package of bills passed by the Legislature allows researchers to test drive autonomous vehicles on public roads, broadening research centers’ ability to perfect the vehicles. The bills now go to the governor for his signature, expected by the end of the year. Autonomous vehicles operate without a driver. According to studies by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, they could increase productivity due to less time spent traveling, lower crash severity, improvement in road safety and reduction of emissions.