Are Automated Vehicles Legally Allowed On Florida Roads?

Testing automated or driverless vehicles is a difficult task for the big tech companies building the software necessary to run them. Most of the testing is done in southwestern states where sun is the norm and rain is unusual. That’s because the weather makes it much more difficult for the software to work properly — it’s just not that good yet. It’s also why many analysts have suggested that full automation is decades away.

But that hasn’t stopped car manufacturers or legislators from trying to jumpstart the transition.

Legislators in Florida recently drafted a bill to allow autonomous vehicles on the state’s roads. It was subsequently signed by Governor Ron DeSantis. This law is different from many others because it allows those vehicles to operate without a human driver behind the wheel. 

Many autonomous vehicle accidents have blamed the underlying technology, when in fact the human overseer just wasn’t paying attention. No one believes the technology is perfect, so it’s a scary moment when legislators accept the fact that, sooner or later, we need to let the human element of the driverless equation go away.

That means the ultimate responsibility for ensuring public safety while using these automated vehicles rests squarely on the shoulders of the manufacturers and software programmers who are supposed to make these cars work.

A lesser known company called Starsky Robotics has already put driverless vehicles on Florida State roads. The company operates out of San Francisco and knows that it needs to test vehicles in environments outside of California and other southwestern states where weather is mostly uniform.

Starsky Robots isn’t interested in purely consumer-based driverless vehicles, though. Recent reports on driverless vehicles have promoted the idea that, maybe, the first wave of truly automated vehicles will be big rig trucks. Starsky Robotics wants to have at least 25 of them on the road by the end of 2020.

But don’t worry about your safety just yet — the company is only testing these trucks on a closed course. They’re no danger to other motorists.

Governor DeSantis said, “With this bill, Florida officially has an open-door policy to autonomous vehicle companies, and I encourage them to relocate from California to Florida. This helps chart a course to a bolder, brighter, and smarter future in transportation and embraces the innovation revolution that will bring high-paying jobs to the state, while making our roads safer.”

The bill went into effect in July.

If you suspect you were in an accident with a driverless vehicle, you should call a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Liability laws are not yet in place for these kinds of accidents.