The Autonomist

Florida to permit driverless AV testing

Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has upped the stakes in autonomous vehicle testing by allowing trials on state roads without back-up drivers.

Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has upped the stakes in autonomous vehicle testing by allowing trials on state roads without back-up drivers.

DeSantis has signed a law lifting restrictions on real-world AV testing and establishing the sunshine state as one of the most AV-friendly administrations in the world.

Bill 311, which comes into force in July, authorises a ‘fully autonomous vehicle to operate in this state regardless of whether a human operator is physically present in the vehicle’.

‘Signing this legislation paves the way for Florida to continue as a national leader in transportation innovation and technological advancement,’ Governor DeSantis told the press. He thanked the bill sponsors, Senator Jeff Brandes and Representative Jason Fischer, for 'their work in making Florida the most autonomous vehicle-friendly state in the country’.

 Ron DeSantis signs bill 311 at the SunTrax facility in Polk County, Florida. Picture: Governor's Office

The bill signing took place at the SunTrax facility in Polk County, Florida, which is a national centre for the research and development of advanced mobility.

The event celebrated the completion of Phase One of this facility with the finish of America’s newest autonomous vehicle test track.

SunTrax will be the only high-speed autonomous vehicle testing facility in the southeastern United States.

The Governor’s office said the partnership between the Florida Turnpike Enterprise and the Florida Department of Transportation ‘puts Florida on the leading-edge of the development of new transportation technologies’.

Up to now, California has been seen as the most progressive state for AV testing and it has issued over 60 licences for real-world testing – crucially, with a driver – to companies developing autonomous systems.

Permit holders include Waymo, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Delphi, Tesla, Nissan, GM Cruise, BMW, Honda, Ford, Zoox, Drive.ai, Apple, Baidu, Navya Inc, Pony, Aurora Innovation, Voyage, Lyft, Toyota, Intel and Argo AI.

By Ray Molony, Technology Editor

17 June 2019