Driverless cars in Tampa? It could be a reality - WFLA News Channel 8

Driverless cars in Tampa? It could be a reality

Posted: Updated:

The Tampa Bay area likely took one big turn toward the future this week and it could now help pave the way for driverless cars.

The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority announced that the Selmon Expressway has met the criteria to become an automated vehicle test bed, joining a small group of other cities around the country.

"Being there at the ground floor is always a good place to be," said Bob Frey, the Planning Director at the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority.

"To get in on the ground floor ... and just be a player at the table with these people and these companies is we think very exciting and allows us to see where this path is going to go."

The news comes after the Research and Innovative Technology Administration and the United States Department of Transportation announced this week that the Expressway meets its criteria. It's the second Florida city to get the okay after Orlando.

The expressway authority will partner with the University of South Florida's Center for Urban Transportation Research Automated Vehicle Institute with the hope that Tampa can become one of the nation's leading centers of research for automated vehicle technology.

The next step will be finding a group that wants to test here. Frey says the Selmon's layout could be a selling point.

"The Selmon Expressway offers a pretty unique set-up in that the elevated reversible lanes system is separated from our lower lanes," he said.

"It operates pretty much on a peak-hour type schedule. So there are times during the day it can be used."

He also pointed out the Brandon Parkway and Meridian in Tampa are owned by THEA.

"Therefore you could see how these vehicles are going to interact between a limited-access facility and an arterial and how that transition is going to occur," he said.

Florida is one of only a handful of states across the country, including California, that have passed laws allowing for driverless cars.

Florida became the second state in the nation allowing automated vehicles to operate on its roads when State Representative Jeff  Brandes, a Republican from St. Petersburg and chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, spearheaded legislation in the 2012 Legislative Session.

"I am glad that our local community leaders are taking the bold steps to bring technology solutions to our growing community… with projects like these, Tampa Bay will be at the cutting edge of transportation innovation," he was quoted in the release from the expressway authority.


  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:49 AM EDT2014-09-01 10:49:59 GMT
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
  • Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:48:06 GMT
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
  • Lakeland neighborhood has continuing water problems, asks 8OYS for help

    Lakeland neighborhood has continuing water problems, asks 8OYS for help

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:03 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:03:34 GMT
    Some Lakeland residents are tired of wondering whether they'll have water at home. Over the past month, they tell 8 On Your Side that they've lost water with no warning at least five times. And what's worse, the water stays off for up to eight hours at a time
    Some Lakeland residents are tired of wondering whether they'll have water at home. Over the past month, they tell 8 On Your Side that they've lost water with no warning at least five times. And what's worse, the water stays off for up to eight hours at a time
  • NewsMore>>

  • Labor Day - more than just a day off

    Labor Day - more than just a day off

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:41 AM EDT2014-09-01 10:41:03 GMT
    While many people have the day off work, the day is actually meant to celebrate the achievements and contributions of American workers.
    While many people have the day off work, the day is actually meant to celebrate the achievements and contributions of American workers.
  • Two shot outside party in Tampa

    Two shot outside party in Tampa

    Monday, September 1 2014 3:59 AM EDT2014-09-01 07:59:20 GMT
    Two people have gunshot wounds after a shooting outside a party in Tampa early Sunday morning, Tampa police said. 
    Two people have gunshot wounds after a shooting outside a party in Tampa early Sunday morning, Tampa police said. 
  • Pilot dies in plane crash near downtown St. Pete

    Pilot dies in plane crash near downtown St. Pete

    Monday, September 1 2014 3:44 AM EDT2014-09-01 07:44:26 GMT
    Rescue boaters are on the scene of a downed banner plane near Albert Whitted Airport.Rescue boaters are on the scene of a downed banner plane near Albert Whitted Airport.
    The pilot of a banner plane that crashed into the water near Albert Whitted Airport has died, St. Petersburg police officials said. 
    The pilot of a banner plane that crashed into the water near Albert Whitted Airport has died, St. Petersburg police officials said. 

  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.