Look out Florida – robotic, driverless trucks are set to hit the highways late next year, and there will be no requirement that surrounding motorists know it.
Governor Ron deSantis this week signed a new state law authorizing driverless transportation networks to operate on public roads without the presence of human drivers in the vehicles.
Starsky Robotics, a San Francisco-based startup company that’s been testing its driverless trucking technology in Florida and Texas, has put out a call for job applicants who one day want to pilot big rigs remotely.
Starsky envisions its remote drivers logging onto computers in an office environment to take the reins of its trucks during the first and last miles of their long hauls.
That means the trucks will be on autopilot for the vast majority of their highway journeys.
Driverless deployments should begin in Florida by the end of 2020, Starsky says.
Co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Fischer, a Duval County Republican, and Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, the new law replaces an existing one that required a human driver be present and able to take over driving chores in autonomous vehicles operating on public property for any other reason than testing.
Proponents of driverless vehicle technology say automated systems will make transportation safer by removing the potential for human error.
Driverless technology proponents envision a day in the not-too-distant future in which most driving becomes automated, freeing commuters to stare into their smartphones or their dashboard video screens.
However, the familiar chatter on CB radio will be missed – “Breaker, breaker, good buddy – Iron Horse, what’s your 20?” And in the words of Jerry Reed, from his song, “Eastbound and Down”, “Let it all hang out, cause we’ve got a run to make.”