Orlando hosts self-driving vehicle conference

The world’s leaders in autonomous vehicle research and development have descended on Orlando, putting Central Florida in the spotlight. 

Orlando is hosting the automated vehicle symposium while vying to be a hub for the technology that autonomous vehicles use.

“Getting the word out, helping people understand why Orlando is the best destination for testing, manufacturing and finding their new talents that apply for the automated vehicle industry,” said Sheena Fowler, vice president of innovation of the Orlando Economic Partnership. “We’re looking to really expand peoples' perceptions of Orlando and help them understand the other half of what we have to offer.”

Industry experts say Central Florida provides a range of weather for testing in all conditions, tech universities to provide talent, favorable regulation and local companies like Luminar already developing technology. 

The company has designed the lasers and sensors for self-driving cars to navigate the roads.

“The eyes of a self–driving vehicle,” said Scott Faris, chief business officer of Luminar Technologies, “if you think about when you drive a vehicle, you’re constantly scanning the environment to understand what objects are around you, how far away and you start to anticipate what they could do, so with this technology, what we’re able to do is understand objects very far away and also understand what those objects are so we can anticipate what kind of course of action it could take.”

Faris says another benefit of Central Florida being a hub is tourists.

“We get 75 million people a year that love to come here for a great experience and really the adoption of autonomous vehicles is really getting the public confident that they’re safe and that they have confidence they get into them and arrive safe,” Faris said.

But, Fowler with the Orlando Economic Partnership says locals would benefit most.

“It’s an opportunity for job creation and job creation is going to impact our economy as a whole,” Fowler said.

Rideshare company Uber, which is testing self-driving cars, is also here. 

In the spirit of collaboration, the company announced it has developed the framework for safety testing of autonomous cars and it is sharing that information with the industry.