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Tampa and the practical path to driverless cars

7

April

One part I underlined in Richard Morgan's Atlantic Cities piece from last week:

True, Florida is not Silicon Valley or Cambridge or even Austin. It is, in fact, a place so stereotyped for its local yokels that there is an Internet meme — Florida Man — set up just to pool all the half-witted antics that Floridians do (to say nothing of the Floridians approaching senility). In that sense, it's easy to see Florida as a driverless beta-testing paradise: a fertile proving ground to play out the adage that foolproof systems tend to underestimate how foolish people can be. Is a "Stand Your Lane" law for human drivers' rights so far-fetched of an idea for Florida's legislature in 2025? Or a driverless equivalent of a "hanging chad" debate?

The state is also primed for robot assistants. It's currently home to 26 metropolitan areas, 14.3 million people, and 100 million annual tourists. In 2012, Florida suffered 2,424 of the nation's 33,561 highway deaths (only California and Texas had more), according to the NHTSA. By 2030, a quarter of Floridians are expected to be 65 or older, their more alert driving days behind them. Tampa, in particular, has many of the social ingredients experts think of when they envision the driverless era: retirement communities, college campuses, military bases, hotels and theme parks — contained settings well-suited for autonomous shuttle services.

Incidentally, because Morgan mentioned the Twitter Flordia Man, I'll just go ahead and mention this one.

[Last modified: Monday, April 7, 2014 12:10pm]

    

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