Advertisement
  1. Transportation

Video: Gov. Rick Scott takes spin in automated Audi

Florida Gov. Rick Scott  exits the Audi Connect Piloted Driving vehicle on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, Tampa, Monday, July 28, 2014, after a ride. SCOTT KEELER   |   TIMES
Florida Gov. Rick Scott exits the Audi Connect Piloted Driving vehicle on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, Tampa, Monday, July 28, 2014, after a ride. SCOTT KEELER | TIMES
Published Jul. 29, 2014

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 ecrampton@tampabay.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. A look at the construction on the Tierra Verde bridge project which is the bridge between Isla Del Sol and Tierra Verde islands on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020 in St. Petersburg. The project began in December 2018 and is scheduled to be completed in summer of 2021. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Dr. Delay takes a deep dive into the construction process for the $56.3 million State Road 679 and Bayway Bridge project .
  2. The Toyota recall covers certain 2011-2019 Corollas, the 2011 to 2013 Matrix, the 2012 through 2018 Avalon and the 2013 to 2018 Avalon Hybrid in the U.S. Pictured is a 2013 Avalon Limited.
    The problem could affect as many as 12.3 million vehicles in the U.S. made by six companies.
  3. The area will be closed to drivers headed north and south from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. through Friday.
  4. A scooter rider navigates Platt Street on Friday morning during the calm before the storm — successive weekends of downtown Gasparilla parades. Scooter companies like Jump warn users it’s a violation of their rental agreement to operate one while under the influence. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    One company decided to pull its scooters Jan. 25 ‘out of an abundance of caution for riders and those participating in Gasparilla.’
  5. Delta Air Lines said Friday it will launch five new round-trip routes a day between Tampa and Miami starting May 4. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    Delta says the daily nonstop Miami service will create new connections for Tampa travelers to fly to Latin America and other international destinations.
  6. Tampa International Airport is building a new bike and pedestrian path that will loop around its under-construction SkyCenter office and hotel development and cell phone waiting lot. Eventually, that path is planned to connect to a network of regional biking and pedestrian trails. [Tampa International Airport]
    Tampa’s airport is the nation’s first to receive the designation from the nonprofit League of American Bicyclists. It was also the first to apply.
  7. In this photo from video, Delta Air Lines Flight 89 to Shanghai, China, dumps fuel over Los Angeles before returning to Los Angeles International Airport for an emergency landing Tuesday. Fuel dumped by the airliner making an emergency return Tuesday to the airport due to an engine problem fell onto three schools, causing minor irritation to 40 children and adults, officials said. (AP Photo/Matt Hartman) [MATT HARTMAN  |  AP]
    The fuel, described by fire officials as a vapor, caused minor skin and lung irritation to 56 children and adults but nobody was taken to the hospital.
  8. Draped against the St. Petersburg skyline on Tuesday evening on January 14, 2020, the Bella Vita is visible as it docks in Port St. Pete. The yacht is nearly 250 feet long and costs about $650,000 to charter for a week in the winter, according to broker Moran Yacht and Ship. It can accommodate 12 passengers between its six staterooms and six decks, and a staff of 22. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
    Meet the Bella Vita, a yacht almost too luxurious to believe.
  9. Ridge Road in Pasco County currently ends at Moon Lake Road. [Tampa Bay Times]
    At a ground-breaking ceremony, officials laud a road more than 30 years in the making.
  10. Readers question who determines how long a traffic light will remain either red or green and what factors go into that decision in the latest Dr. Delay. [Tampa Bay Times]
    Who controls the timing of the lights in Tampa Bay? Dr. Delay gets some answers.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement