Make us your home page
Instagram

Selmon Expressway becomes testing ground for automated vehicles

The Lee Roy Selmon Expressway is one of two Florida sites that will be used to test the safety and performance of driverless vehicles. The other site is in Orlando.

CHERIE DIEZ | Times (2012)

The Lee Roy Selmon Expressway is one of two Florida sites that will be used to test the safety and performance of driverless vehicles. The other site is in Orlando.

TAMPA — One day in the not-so-distant future, cars without drivers could start cruising down the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.

The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority said Friday the Selmon Expressway has become one of 10 sites nationwide where researchers can study the safety and performance of automated vehicles.

But don't expect driverless cars to join traffic any time soon. Most likely, the vehicles would be tested on the expressway's elevated lanes during non-peak hours when officials could close the lanes to regular traffic.

The designation gives the Tampa area access to the businesses, automakers and researchers developing the technology, said the authority's executive director Joe Waggoner. Long term, the goal is to make Florida a leader in driverless transportation systems.

"We think this is a coming revolution in transportation. A lot of the technology is there,'' Waggoner said. "What it comes down to is moving it into practice. We want to know what it takes and be a part of it.''

Florida hit the gas on automated vehicles in 2012 when lawmakers passed legislation allowing the cars to be tested on public roads. Only Florida, California and Nevada have such rules.

The Selmon Expressway is one of two sites statewide that have been approved for driverless car testing by the Research and Innovative Technology Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The other is in downtown Orlando.

The expressway authority is working with the University of South Florida's Center for Urban Transportation Research to develop the Selmon Expressway as a test site. Although no timeframe or details have been set, Waggoner envisions also testing automated vehicles on Meridian Avenue and Brandon Parkway — arterial roads connected to the expressway — to simulate a full driving experience.

Proponents say automated vehicles would improve safety and decrease the costs associated with accidents, from insurance to medical treatments. Through advanced computer software, sensors and global positioning systems, the cars could reduce human error and allow higher speed limits. Officials estimate they could become commonplace as soon as 2025.

Susan Thurston can be reached at sthurston@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3110.

Selmon Expressway becomes testing ground for automated vehicles 01/31/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 31, 2014 8:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times

    Business

    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]