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  • By John R. Quain

The Week in Autonomy: Florida Law, Public Skepticism, and Tesla

Cadillac video rear view mirror by John Quain

In the ignorance-is-bliss category, another poll found that most people in the U.S. are skeptical about autonomous vehicles. A Reuters poll demonstrated that most Americans believe self-driving cars are more dangerous than those driven by humans. Moreover, 63 percent of respondents claimed they would not pay more for a self-driving option.

So should carmakers proceed cautiously in the autonomous vehicle space? Yes. But once people see their neighbors with self-driving cars ("I went out to Montauk with Marge and the kids and slept through all the traffic!") they're going to want the feature, too, no matter what they say.

Meanwhile, down in Florida where a large portion of the aging population could definitely benefit from autonomous vehicles, the state assembly inched closer to passing a new AV bill. One of the critical updates is that the bill would no longer require that a licensed human operator be on board, allowing for true autonomy. It would also loosen regulations (while adhering to any federal regs) in order to enable automated ride-sharing robotaxis to operate in the state. Interestingly, for those who think dedicated lanes for self-driving cars may be in order, the legislation notes that the Florida Turnpike Enterprise may now fund, test and study AV technology.

Finally, pushing this week's Tesla SEO bandwagon, some finance writers brayed about Tesla's recent over-the-air software update for automatically changing lanes on the highway. It's a minor update for a company that has been trying to play catchup in the autonomous vehicle race. Just remember: you're still supposed to keep your hands on the wheel.

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