"There are a lot of different assets that we have that we just need to begin to stitch together and communicate more frequently," Pawl told Automotive News.
"To continue to be a part of the conversation and allow the technology to advance, it's important that states like Michigan and other states in the Midwest find their way into this room."
Michigan can leverage its clear advantage in land-based transportation and apply it to air-based technologies, Pawl said.
"The near-future approach that we're taking as it relates to aerial mobility is looking at various synergies between what the [automakers] are doing with autonomous, connected, shared and electric and what is possible in the air with those," Pawl said.
The state is home to multiple ground and aerial test sites and training programs, including the University of Michigan's drone testing lab M-Air, and the Michigan Unmanned Aerial Systems Consortium in Alpena.
Another part of Michigan's push to become a leader is fostering startups, said Lisa Peterson, vice president of marketing at Airspace Link, a Detroit-based company helping governments create guardrails and regulations for drone flights.
"Obviously the future of mobility is very important to the state, and this is just a natural extension, or an addition to, the future of mobility," she said. "This is the next dimension."