Inside a driverless car. (Credit: David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a law allowing companies to test driverless cars on Michigan roads.

But there’s a key point: Someone must be in the car.

In a statement Friday, Snyder says the law is important to keep Michigan involved in research and development of car technology. He also mentioned a need for the law in his 2013 State of the State speech.

“Michigan is the automotive capital of the world,” he said. “By allowing the testing of automated, driverless cars today, we will stay at the forefront in automotive technological advances that will make driving safer and more efficient in the future.”

The law, which was sponsored by Republican Sen. Mike Kowall of White Lake, allows automakers and upfitters to test automated motor vehicles, but requires a human to be in the driver’s seat to monitor performance and take the wheel if necessary.

The law also protects original manufacturers from civil liability for damages caused by modified driverless vehicles, unless the defect from which the damages resulted was present in the vehicle when it was manufactured.

By 2016, the state Transportation Department is required to inform the Legislature about any additional laws or policies needed for further testing of vehicles.