Published On: Fri, Jul 13th, 2018

The Future of Transportation is Now — Autonomous Vehicles Are A Reality!

by Robert S Weinroth

In 2012, Google delivered two autonomous vehicles to Tallahassee to demonstrate the technology. Since then, Florida has become one of the most welcoming venues for autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles offer the promise of reduced traffic congestion and less land allocated for parking. But the true reason for embracing this new technology is the potential for a dramatic reduction in the carnage on our roads.

Distracted drivers, drivers under the influence and drivers with diminished driving skills would no longer be causing accidents on our roads. The independence we each cherish (symbolized by access to a private passenger vehicle) would be preserved for those of advanced years without imperiling those with whom they share the road.

But, and there always seems to be a “but,” the disruption in our transportation system caused by the introduction of fully autonomous vehicles (especially while sharing the road with human drivers) promises to create a problems akin to what occurred with our transition to the horseless carriage at the beginning of the 20th century as cars and horses shared the road.

At the same time as we are moving toward the day when communication connections are created between the infrastructure (e.g., road markings, signs and signals) and vehicles; and between vehicles, the transition from internal combustion to electric engines will continue.

It is projected that by 2030 (less than 15 years from today) 20-30% of our vehicles will be powered by electricity. This will necessitate alternate funding mechanisms for the maintenance and upgrade of our highway system, now dependent on diminishing gas tax dollars

Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing services are but the precursor for the future when vehicle ownership will be replaced by vehicle subscriptions. Garaging will be unnecessary as multiple users take advantage of the time the vehicle would normally sit idle. Today, vehicles are parked over 90% of the time.

We have become numb to the carnage on our roadways. Notwithstanding the required period of transition, with over 90% of the over 38,000 deaths from motor vehicle accidents in the US last year attributed to human error (and an additional 4 million injuries), autonomous vehicles could potentially save the equivalent of a full 747 every week and eliminate the suffering of those injured.

Florida allows anyone with a valid drivers license to operate an autonomous vehicle as long as the vehicle is capable of alerting the operator to a technology failure. If the operator can’t take control of the vehicle it must be capable of bringing itself to a complete stop.

It all sounds like something out of the Jetsons but it is going to be a reality before children in Kindergarten are ready to get behind the wheel.

Level 3-vehicle automation is due to be available in 2018 whereby the driving functions are sufficiently automated that the driver can engage in other activities.

Level 4-vehicle automation will follow soon thereafter allowing the vehicle to be driven without a human driver!

Many a parent will sleep more soundly knowing their children are not making life-changing mistakes behind the wheel, relying, instead on the autonomous technology to get them home safe.

About the Author

- Robert Weinroth is a 27 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman, former member of the City Council (where he served for four years) and currently serves as an elected member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Supreme Court of the United States. Weinroth served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services Inc, an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. After serving on multiple community boards and committees, Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council in 2014. During his tenure, he served as CRA Vice-chair and Deputy Mayor and was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport Authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. As a newly elected County Commissioner, Weinroth has been appointed Vice-Chair of the Solid Waste Authority, a board member of the PBC Transportation Planning Agency, and alternate representative on the Treasure Coast Planning Agency and several other county and regional boards. Robert, Pamela and their two dogs, Sierra and Siggy, are proud to call Boca Raton home.

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