Sunday, January 21, 2018
Transportation

Video: Gov. Rick Scott takes spin in automated Audi

TAMPA — A gleaming silver Audi glided along the expressway Monday, its driver chatting with passengers without his hands on the wheel or eyes on the road.

When a sport utility vehicle in front halted, the sedan came to a graceful stop without any guidance from the driver.

Elevated commuter lanes on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway were closed midday Monday for the Audi car company to take its latest driverless car out on real road conditions. A traffic jam was created with five other vehicles to test the automated car's sensor capabilities. The model, a Sport Quattro Laserlight unveiled in April, has 22 sensors that detect other vehicles and instruct the car to react to changes in traffic.

Gov. Rick Scott took the first ride. Afterward, he said riding in the computer-enhanced car didn't seem different from being in a regular one.

The expressway that connects Tampa and Brandon is one of just 10 approved sites nationwide where researchers can study the safety and performance of automated vehicles. Florida is one of three states that allow self-driving cars to be tested on public roads.

"I hope everyone that thinks about doing this moves to Florida and brings their research here," Scott said at a news conference.

Accompanied by a caravan of cars by Audi that were filled with news photographers, the car branded "Audi Connect" made its way across the expressway, not reaching speeds greater than 25 mph. Five different simulations were conducted, and the car had to stop after each demo to recharge its sensors. It's normal for the test car to need to restart after each solo maneuver, said Brad Stertz, a communications manager for Audi.

Scott said that the expressway test project provides an opportunity for jobs in science, technology and research because there are few of its kind in the nation. The event was the first in a series of campaign stops Scott will make this week to champion "jobs for the next generation."

Filip Brabec, Audi's director of product planning, said the company hopes advancements in technology will reduce the number of car crashes.

Audi chose Florida to test its automated car partly because of the climate, Stertz said — engineers wanted to see it would perform in sweltering heat.

As the driverless car crept across the expressway, an Audi employee sat in the back seat and monitored its metrics on a computer screen, analyzing how quickly the car responded to traffic movements. Engineers will use that information when the car is shipped back to production headquarters in Northern California to make improvements, Stertz said.

Audi has joined a number of other companies, like Google and Volvo, which are exploring the capabilities of driverless cars.

The German car company has said that cars with automated technology will be commercially sold in five years. But Brabec cautioned that those models will have limited automation. Completely driverless cars where passengers can "sit in the back seat with a latte" while a car runs will not be available for 20 years.

Contact Liz Crampton at [email protected]

     
Comments
Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — The newest hope for transportation in the Tampa Bay area is a bus rapid transit system projected to cover the 41-miles separating St. Petersburg from Wesley Chapel and attract 4,500 new riders at a fraction of the cost of light rail....
Published: 01/19/18
Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

ST. PETERSBURG — Transportation planners on Friday unveiled a new transit vision for Tampa Bay leaders on Friday morning: Bus rapid transit.Also known as BRT, it has arisen as the leading option in an ongoing study to find the best regional transit p...
Published: 01/19/18
Romano: Are buses really our last gasp?

Romano: Are buses really our last gasp?

To the members of the Tampa Bay Transportation Management Area Leadership group:Listen carefully when a new plan for a rapid bus system is unveiled to you on Friday. All the benefits the supporters will tout will undoubtedly be true.A rapid bus syste...
Published: 01/18/18
Road planners to study underpass at central Pasco bottleneck

Road planners to study underpass at central Pasco bottleneck

DADE CITY — Pasco County’s transportation board wants to find out if a big dig will work at the congested intersection of U.S. 41 and State Road 54.County commissioners and elected officials from Pasco’s cities, sitting as the Metropolitan Planning O...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/18/18

Brooksville intersection re-opens

BROOKSVILLE — Jasmine Drive is expected to reopen to traffic this weekend at the Cortez Boulevard intersection. The traffic change followed a resurfacing project by the Florida Department of Transportation that required lane closures. Work wil...
Published: 01/12/18
Tampa Bay Transit: How rapid buses left light rail in the dust

Tampa Bay Transit: How rapid buses left light rail in the dust

Transit leaders have spent years trying to build a transportation system that would span the Tampa Bay region and allow residents to travel from one end of the bay to the other without having to drive across it. Now they’re closer than ever to...
Published: 01/12/18

Part of King Street in Safety Harbor closed next week

SAFETY HARBOR — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Street N will be closed from Elm Street to Ninth Avenue N (local traffic only from 7 p.m.-7 a.m.) Monday through Wednesday. Sanitary sewer cleaning and videotaping will be performed by Florida Jetclean.
Published: 01/11/18
St. Petersburg picks finalists for 40th Avenue NE bridge project

St. Petersburg picks finalists for 40th Avenue NE bridge project

ST. PETERSBURG — Four firms have been selected as finalists to take on project management of the 40th Avenue NE bridge repair project. The bridge, which was shut down for emergency repairs last year but was soon re-opened for outer lane traffic, is e...
Published: 01/11/18
Tampa Bay’s transit future: Light rail’s out. Rapid buses are in.

Tampa Bay’s transit future: Light rail’s out. Rapid buses are in.

Watch out, Tampa Bay: light rail is out, and buses are in. For now, anyway.Transit leaders appear ready to scrap their dream of building a light rail line connecting Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties in favor of a bus rapid transit system tha...
Published: 01/11/18
HART’s driverless shuttle on hold for downtown Tampa

HART’s driverless shuttle on hold for downtown Tampa

TAMPA — A highly touted autonomous shuttle project along the Marion Street Transitway won’t be ready by the NHL All-Star weekend at the end of the month, as previously planned.Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, the county’s bus agency, ove...
Published: 01/08/18