Orlando to be testing ground for driverless cars, technology

- The "City Beautiful" is poised to be a "City of the Future."  The U.S. Department of Transportation has designated Orlando one of ten "proving ground" cities for driverless vehicles.

“This would represent a paradigm shift in transportation,” says Charles Ramdatt, the city's director of special projects, “heavy emphasis on safety and vehicles that would help us increase mobility.”

Orlando will partner with local universities, transport agencies and the Kennedy Space Center. Together, they'll research and develop new automation capabilities for cars, trucks, buses and trains - including driverless technology. A small city to test automated cars and trucks will be built near Florida Polytechnic in Polk County. NASA will also build a large test track for driverless vehicles. Eventually they'll also use major roadways like I-4 for testing.

“Automobiles, transit, freight and bike ped is what we're proposing,” Ramdatt says, “first in simulations, then in closed environments, then limited deployment in open traffic.”

Under the proposed plan, there could be driverless buses in the city of Orlando. Some riders thought that would be a great idea.

“If it's safe, why not?” asks Francisco Alvarez, waiting to ride a LYNX Bus, “if it makes the route more efficient, I would suggest that, let's go with it.”

Others weren't so sure. “I think it'll disconnect,” says bus rider Donise Lee, “it kind of takes away that human touch.”

There’s no timeline for any of this to happen, just yet. Now that Orlando’s got the green light though, the wheels can start rolling.

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