TAMPA, Fla. – Now is your chance to hop in and take a ride in a self-driving car.
Starting Wednesday, May 9 through May 11, the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) will host three demo days to give the public the opportunity to experience self-driving technology and provide feedback about their rides.
Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, a vocal advocate of the technology, will also be involved in the event.
He says as the technology rapidly advances, policy needs to catch up.
“By 2025-2030 this could be a standard feature in many vehicles,” Brandes said. “What I’m focused on is what’s the right insurance amount for this technology, but then how do we create this kind of light-touch of regulation so that we encourage it.”
Participants will have the chance to try out a virtual reality system and the real deal, too. Perrone is offering its self-driving vehicle for demonstrations on the Selmon Expressway’s Reversible Express Lanes. Those lanes will be closed to traffic 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 7-11.
Riders will be asked questions before, during, and after their rides about what they think of the technology and any concerns they might have with self-driving vehicles. SAE plans to use that information to determine how to improve public perception of the technology.
This marks the latest self-driving initiative for THEA, which is already involved in a pilot program to develop and test connected vehicle technology — cars fitted with sensors, sharing information with each other and a network of receivers mounted around town.
The idea is to be able to share the information with traffic control workers, who can then adjust traffic signals in real time to keep things moving — reducing congestion and pollution.
“I think it’s going to be much sooner than anyone thinks in terms of self-driving cars being out there,” said Joe Waggoner, THEA CEO.