Although it was in Pittsburg that Uber’s self- driving cars debuted last year, Orlando is stepping up to claim its share of self-driving technology. There’s a whole new future ahead of Orlando, as municipalities wants to take the lead and make it the world’s first city to normalize self-driving cars and push it further to the mainstream. It plans to do that by turning part of the city into a space for testing self-driving vehicles, which it will inaugurate this fall. The space allocated for testing the vehicles is at Walt Disney’s Epcot, which was built in 1982 as a celebration for human achievement, namely technological innovation and international culture.
In January 2017, Orlando’s municipalities partnered with several local academic, private sector and government agencies to form the Central Florida Automated Vehicle (AV) Partnership. The City will rely on SunTrax to construct a new transportation technology testing facility, NASA Kennedy Space Center to provide the second controlled testing facility as well as the authority for public highways, roadways and transit, which will provide AVs exposure to complex roadways with a diversity of sections.
In June 2016, Joshua Brown was testing an autonomous Tesla vehicle when it crashed into a truck and killed him. The fatal accident shook the tech field, causing enthusiasts to take many steps back. “What we know is that the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied,” Tesla said in an official release on 30 June.
So the real question is, are the people ready? In the most recent report by the American Automobile Association, it was revealed that although most US drivers seek autonomous technologies in their next vehicle, yet they continue to fear the fully self-driving ones. However, Orlando’s plan could help make the people ready and familiarize them with the technology.
Just like there are unfortunate stories, there are stories of success which unquestionably echo quieter. In October 2015, Steven Mahan, a visually impaired man from Austin successfully journeyed solo around the City with Google’s driverless car, making him the first non-Google employee to ever try the vehicle. Despite not being able to see the roads, Mahan felt like he was commuting with a very good driver. Google has had this technology for a decade, “It’s the hard parts of driving that really take the time and the effort to do right,” Google engineer Nathaniel Fairfield explained.