Driverless Cars – Political Hot Potato?

Google and other companies have ramped up their tests of autonomous vehicles over the past several years. While most of the major automotive OEMs are working on some sort of driverless system, Google has gotten the most attention because of its high-profile road tests. A political commercial in Florida, however, might indicate that getting states to allow these types of vehicles on the road could be a challenge.

Google has spearheaded legislative efforts to allow driverless cars on the road in the U.S. The company backed successful legislation in Nevada that allowed for driverless vehicles (the first license for an autonomous car was issued in May), and efforts are also underway in Florida, Hawaii, Oklahoma and California. (You can read more about Google’s technology in our previous coverage here.)

In Florida, however, the driverless car issue suddenly became a point of contention in the Republican primary race between state representatives Jeff Brandes and Jim Frishe, who were both running for an open state Senate seat. Brandes sponsored a bill that would legalize the testing of driverless cars on public roads. A pro-Frishe PAC called the Committee To Protect Florida ran an anti-Brandes ad that focused on the bill, indicating that if passed, it could lead to deadly pedestrian collisions.

It didn’t work; Brandes handily won the race (and will almost certainly win the Senate seat, since he has no general election challenger). While the ad is over the top, it does highlight what could be potential objections to the technology once it is more widely available. There are only a handful of road-ready driverless vehicles in the U.S. today; once the odds of actually encountering one of them on the road increase, will voters (or state legislatures) balk because they don’t understand the technology? Google appears to be trying to get ahead of the issue.

You can see the ad below:

Source: The Car Connection

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