Florida Passes Autonomous Vehicle Testing Bill

Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation which allows for greater testing and implementation of autonomous vehicles in the state. Specifically, the bill allows for autonomous vehicles to operate without the need of a human operator to be present in the vehicle, which has been a major barrier to testing autonomous vehicle systems in the past. The bill also outlines specific insurance requirements for autonomous vehicles, which have a different set of risks and safety concerns from standard vehicles. Governor DeSantis even encouraged autonomous vehicle companies, like Tesla, to relocate from California to Florida.

The passing of this bill, combined with the construction of the SunTrax autonomous vehicle testing facility in Polk County, will position Florida as a leader in the testing and development of autonomous vehicle technology. The SunTrax is a 475-acre facility commissioned by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) that is dedicated to research, development, and testing of emerging transportation technologies. It will feature a multi-lane oval track stretching over 2 miles designed for high-speed vehicle testing, which will make the SunTrax the only high-speed autonomous vehicle testing facility in the southeastern United States. There will also be multiple low-speed tracks located inside the main oval track, designed to test driving at different slopes, angles, and around obstacles. Construction of the main oval track has already been completed, and the rest of the track is scheduled for completion in spring 2021.