Florida governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill that allows autonomous cars to operate on the roads without requiring a human being to be behind the wheel, according to reports.
The new law puts the responsibility on companies making the technology to make sure the cars are safe and don’t cause accidents. Florida is now the third state to pass such a law, behind Texas and Michigan.
Starsky Robotics, from San Francisco, is already testing vehicles in the state, and the company plans to deploy 25 self-driving trucks by the end of next year. The company tests vehicles in Lake Okeechobee, on a closed-off rural road. It also has three autonomous vehicles currently on the road in Florida on freeways.
“With this bill, Florida officially has an open-door policy to autonomous vehicle companies, and I encourage them to relocate from California to Florida,” DeSantis said. “This helps chart a course to a bolder, brighter, and smarter future in transportation and embraces the innovation revolution that will bring high-paying jobs to the state, while making our roads safer.”
The bill goes into effect on July 1. It mandates that companies testing autonomous vehicles have to build systems, whether audible or visible or both, that alert humans when there’s a system failure. Also, safeguards must be put in place so that the cars satisfy a “minimal risk condition” position, meaning they might have to pull over and put on emergency lights. Owners of the self-driving vehicles also have to report a crash right away or install a system that will contact law enforcement immediately.
Drivers inside the cars, though, do not have to adhere to Florida’s cellphone ban while behind the wheel. The insurance requirements for the cars are $300,000 in both bodily liability and property damage coverage for trucks that have gross vehicle weight of 44,000 pounds or more. It’s less for vehicles that aren’t as heavy.
Also, there’s a requirement for a $1 million insurance policy for death, injury and property damage for cars that operate as taxis. The cars will also be allowed to operate without a state inspection or certification.