Florida could legalize fully self-driving cars

May 4, 2019

Florida may be the next state to make self-driving cars without a backup driver legal on its roads.

Senate Bill 932 lays out a path to autonomous car legalization in the Sunshine State. Notably, the cars would not require a human driver behind the wheel, something currently not allowed in most states. The bill passed the House last week unanimously, and Florida's state senate also passed the bill on Wednesday. It will soon head to Governor Ron DeSantis' desk.

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The legislation would invite companies like Waymo, Cruise Automation, and Uber to test self-driving cars in Florida. The state should be a prime candidate since weather conditions are favorable for autonomous cars in their current state. Most tests take place on the west coast where the weather is typically dry and warm. Save for the added humidity, Florida seems like a logical place for self-driving car companies to go next.

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We still haven't seen autonomous systems tackle more severe weather, however. Major rains, flooding, cold temperatures, and snow are all areas self-driving cars will need to master if companies want to deploy fleets of the vehicles nationwide.

The latest bill also sets up insurance parameters for ride-sharing companies that plan to use self-driving cars.

While states carve their own path to allowing self-driving cars on local roads, guidance from the federal government remains lacking. Until solid framework exists, states will likely need to work with patchwork regulations to let driverless cars on roadways.

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