Florida Wants To Fully Legalize Cars Without Drivers

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That means Floridians could see cars rolling down the street without anyone inside.

Of all the crazy stories that come out of Florida, the nuttiest yet may be this one depending on which side of the autonomous car argument you lie. It surrounds Senate Bill 932, a bill that if passed, would make Florida the first state to fully legalize self-driving cars. There are plenty of other states that allow automakers and tech companies to test autonomous vehicles, but they all require a driver to be presiding over the test and ready to intervene if something goes wrong. SB 932, on the other hand, would require no such safeguard. If passed, the law would allow fully-autonomous cars to roam the Sunshine State without a single person inside.

The bill has already gotten through the Florida House and Senate, meaning that it’s up to Governor Ron DeSantis to sign the bill into law. The obvious beneficiaries of this law would be companies like Lyft and Uber, who stand to make a fortune if they can bypass rideshare workers and pocket 100% of the cash riders pay for rides. According to the Miami New Times, Uber issued a media release, saying, "On behalf of Uber, we thank the Florida Legislature and their leadership in helping Florida continue to be a leader in welcoming self-driving technology," said Stephanie Smith, Uber's senior policy manager. "This measure provides direction on the roles of state and local government and authorization for the deployment of automated vehicles on a ridesharing network. These provisions establish a clear pathway to bring the benefits of automation to our state.”

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While companies like Uber and Lyft already give rides using fleets of autonomous vehicles, paid employees still have to sit behind the wheel so the companies can comply with local laws. If SB 932 passes, it may make Florida the first state to bridge the gap into fully autonomous rideshare services, which could touch off a cascade of job creation followed by nationwide lobbying to bring fully autonomous cars to the streets of as many cities as possible. This is, of course, assuming the technology is ready to be deployed without human babysitters ensuring it doesn’t crash.

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