Thursday’s letters: Florida has arguably become the autonomous vehicle capital of North America

Published May 12 2018
Updated May 17 2018

Autonomous vehicles in Florida

The state for self-driving cars

Almost overnight, Florida has arguably become the autonomous vehicle capital of North America. In the last three months, Voyage, a self-driving taxi service, has begun service in the Villages. Transdev is starting shuttle service in the new autonomous-only community of Babcock Ranch. And Ford announced that Miami will be the test bed for its latest delivery service.

While some may wonder why these sophisticated companies are choosing Florida, for the Florida Chamber of Commerceís Autonomous Florida program the reasons are clear.

First, a pro-business and pro-autonomous regulatory climate, championed by lawmakers like Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Jeff Brandes. While states like California have been increasing regulations, Florida is welcoming them. These efforts have placed Florida in the driverís seat for the coming driverless revolution.

Florida has constructively and properly implemented a statewide regulatory framework rather than a patchwork of local government regulations. Autonomous vehicles need a single statewide standard in the same way that ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft did.

Data is also playing a key role. Autonomous vehicles will produce, analyze and use massive amounts of data, and to prepare for the demand, the Florida Legislature passed a means for the deployment of small cell networks that can bring 5G connections using existing infrastructure.

Finally, partnerships between state and local transportation professionals have been essential. Consider the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and their plans for the Ultimate Urban Circulator, or U2C. Forward-thinking companies are excited to work with forward thinking communities.

These things did not just happen on their own. Policymakers, businesses and professionals have spent years preparing Florida for the next big thing in the global economy. It is exciting that the world is now taking notice.

Christopher Emmanuel

The writer is the director of infrastructure and governance policy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Recycling woes pile up | May 15

How I plan to recycle now

Nearly three years into the recycling program and having heard nothing about how it is faring, I asked a member of the St. Petersburg City Council why the public had not been informed of its status. The reply I received was that there was modest participation (65 percent now), extra millions were spent buying smaller trucks, and there is now no profit to report, only loss. So this news report was no surprise. I know we were already recycling at the waste incinerator by converting the waste into electricity. Now the collection and sorting plant is overwhelmed. I suggest we limit the collection effort to glass, cut the pickup frequency and revert to disposing of burnable waste in the garbage containers and make electricity. That is what I am going to do.

Hardy Bryan, St. Petersburg

Let the NRA pay | May 14, letter

Guns and common sense

I am a longtime member in good standing of the National Rifle Association, as are another six million Americans. We never cease to be amazed by the so-called common sense gun safety measures being argued for by normally good-natured people. One example is background checks, which have failed miserably in preventing any of the recent murders of innocent adults and children. The weapons used by these killers were acquired either legally through passing a background check, or else they were stolen by the perpetrators. Others argue for some kind of medical tests. I suppose thatís in order to weed out users of mind-altering drugs among us. Of course, that would infringe on another of our rights against unreasonable search without probable cause and due process. Then there are those who argue for some kind of licensing requirements. Consider, though, that more people are killed each year on our nationís highways than have died at the hands of deranged shooters. Apparently, these folks have either not read the Second Amendment, or donít know the meaning of its words. What is it about the phrase "shall not be infringed" they donít understand?

William Lines, Spring Hill

Car owners still waiting
for safe airbags | May 13

Find a fix now

The question is, why have these people had to wait? In the years since exploding airbags became a problem, why havenít American automobile manufacturers started a company to supply not only themselves, but other manufacturers as well? Maybe they could get Elon Musk to come up with some ideas. Give him half an hour or so. We have a lot to lose if somebody doesnít find the answer soon.

Bob Dalzell, St. Petersburg

Trumpís lizard wisdom | May 12, column

Takes one to know one

David Brooks reminds us that President Donald Trump is the man for the times. It takes a thief to catch a thief, right?

Sankaran Babu, Tampa

The man who just wants to go home | May 5

Restrooms for the homeless

I live in one of several of the high-rise apartment buildings in downtown Tampa, but I was once homeless, and I want our leaders to know that we have a major problem concerning the lack of public facilities in which the homeless may relieve themselves. Instead, they use our parking garage and other private property.

When I was homeless in San Antonio, Texas, there was a facility located downtown where the homeless could use the restroom as well as take a hot shower. The homeless always have been and always will be with us. Something as simple as some portable toilets could help alleviate some of the problem. These people are human beings and not animals and should be treated accordingly.

Robert Carey, Tampa