When will regulators approve self-driving vehicles? Well, in Florida, they already have. “More than a month after the Florida legislature passed a bill legalizing the use of autonomous vehicles, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law,” 10News reports.
“The new law means human-less self-driving vehicles could be hitting the streets in the Sunshine State in the near future. The law also helps pave the way for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to expand the use of driverless vehicles, CBS Miami reported in May.” Of course, that also means Tesla once it rolls out its robotaxi network/app.
“The law also says that a human is not required to operate an autonomous vehicle and provides insurance guidelines for rideshare companies that use self-driving vehicles. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Jason Fischer, said he wants the state to be a leader in allowing autonomous vehicle technology on roadways.”
This should allow quicker movement towards greater traffic safety. Tesla is already demonstrating that semi-autonomous driving is much safer and can save lives, while it expects to have “Full Self-Driving” capability ready soon.
At the same time, there are concerns for workers, professional drivers. Many a household provider has found work as a Lyft or Uber driver. Besides full-time work when one is struggling, driving for Lyft or Uber can also fill in as a part-time second or third job to meet the cost of living increase that has left so many with one foot or more in homelessness (choking in the dust). Lack of minimum wage increases — for decades — has meant more and more of the population must work two or three jobs to get by. Florida is no exception — rents are high here.
Additionally, there are many other delivery and taxi drivers out there who will probably see their careers killed by self-driving vehicles.
The point is not to stop progress, but we do need to be prepared for this challenge and get ready to implement policies to prevent a societal crisis.
(Not an endorsement for Andrew Yang, but the discussions above are good and important.)
“The new law takes effect July 1. It will allow self-driving cars without humans on all roads as long as the vehicles meet insurance and safety requirements outlined in the new legislation,” NBC Miami writes. “Current law allows self-driving vehicles if a person is in the car as backup. The new law also exempts operators inside self-driving cars from laws that ban texting while driving and other potentially distracting activities.”
The recent legislation is a big win for ridesharing (on-demand/app-based taxi) companies — well, the ones that lead in this tech. The question is about who gets there first. Lyft? Uber? Tesla? Someone else?
Then again, some see this as symbolic and don’t expect any actual changes on the road for years.
“If the prospects of Florida being one of the first places to get driverless cars is a scary thought, don’t worry,” The Observer weighed in earlier this month. “Automated vehicle technology becoming a reality is likely still decades away, and won’t arrive until full safety and infrastructure measures are in place.” Hmm, Tesla would disagree with that.
The Florida Department of Transportation, which has been working on this for years, was happy to proclaim that Florida is at the forefront of the Automated Vehicle Movement. At an EV Summit in Cocoa, Florida, a few years ago, we spoke with officials who were very keen to make Florida the #1 state in the country on this topic.
Tip of the hat to JRR for the news and links.