Downtown Tampa could soon see autonomous vehicles rolling through downtown streets. The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority operations and safety committee unanimously approved moving forward with a one-year contract between the authority and vendor Beep Inc. to test autonomous vehicles (AVs) in downtown Tampa. While a few other communities around the country have AVs that run in designated lanes, this would be a major step forward for the autonomous vehicle movement in Hillsborough County, Florida.
According to its’ Office of Mobility, the city of Gainesville, Florida is expected to make autonomous electric buses available as a new form of public transportation by the end of the year – which would make Gainesville the first city in the country to have self-driving buses on public roads. While a few other communities around the country have AVs that run in designated lanes, this would be a major step forward for the autonomous vehicle movement.
We reported last year that Florida had created a legal framework in an attempt to motivate companies to test their AVs in the Sunshine State. This past year has seen further efforts on the part of lawmakers – and these efforts appear to already have borne fruit.
Traditional automakers and large tech companies continue to acquire AV-tech startups as competition for key personnel, proprietary technology, and AV data increases. As the AV industry continues to consolidate, traditional auto makers and tech companies will need to continue to conduct thorough due diligence during the acquisition phase. Moreover, they will need to have policies and procedures in place to protect trade secrets and confidential information, while ensuring that any potential acquisition target has properly managed and protected its AV-related data.
With traditional automakers and tech-companies continuing to develop AVs, venture capitalists are increasing their attention and investment activity in our industry. Likewise, traditional automakers and large tech companies have acquired AV-tech startups as competition for key personnel, technology, and first-mover advantage increases.
After a decade of testing and over 10 million miles driven on public roads, Waymo officially launched Waymo One, the country's first commercial autonomous ride-share service. Waymo One will now begin providing customers rides in AVs 24 hours a day. Similar to other ride-share services, consumers use an app to request a ride and enter in their drop-off location. The app provides a fixed price for the cost of transporting the rider from their pickup location to the requested drop off location.
While many are aware testing of autonomous vehicles (AVs) is currently under way in states like California, Nevada, and Arizona, few realize Florida has created a legal framework to attract companies to build and test AV technology.
As the debate continues about the potential impact autonomous vehicles will have on traffic patterns, automobile safety, commute times, real estate valuations, and a slew of other factors, employers may soon have to contemplate changes in their own work practices. Specifically, businesses should begin to review their remote work policies and plan for how autonomous vehicles will impact an employee’s ability to work remotely.