May 03, 2019

Driverless cars getting closer to hitting Florida roads

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

Self-driving buses have already logged hundreds of hours in Southwest Florida’s Babcock Ranch.

Thursday, May 2nd 2019, 9:00 PM EDT by Ben Henry

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It could happen as early as this week, and if it does, our streets could look like a scene from a futuristic movie. Governor Ron DeSantis now has the power to allow self-driving cars, with no driver inside, on Florida roads. 

Both the House and Senate recently passed their own versions of the bill. The biggest change to our current ‘self-driving laws’ would be that these autonomous cars would not need someone inside as back-up.

Naturally, this could sound alarming to some – especially when you’re thinking about the safety of everyone else on the road. But, right here in Southwest Florida, self-driving buses have already logged hundreds of hours in Babcock Ranch.

“The technology is advanced,” said Syd Kitson, who helped create Babcock Ranch and get the driverless buses moving there. He said he hopes the governor makes it official and turns Florida into a pioneer for other states to follow.

“There are issues that still need to be worked out before it’s (self-driving cars are) out commercially, but I think it’s closer than most people think it is,” he said.

A concern with these autonomous cars are crashes and how the insurance industry is going to handle this new type of claim.

Another group that will be dealing with these robotic drivers is personal injury lawyers.

“There’s an unanswered question about liability,” an attorney with Goldberg Noone, Elizete Velado, said.

She said she feels Florida’s current insurance policies will not meld well with these self-driving car cases.

Another worry is when a crash happens – something she said is inevitable – figuring out who, or what, is responsible will not be easy.

She said she wants lawmakers to make sure liability coverage, when dealing with these robotic cars, protects drivers and everyone else who shares the road, as it’s intended to do.