“When you don’t know what lies around the corner, what you should do is focus on maximizing your options. Slow down, don’t overregulate and maximize your options,” states former Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes in the above video.1 As an Army veteran who led military convoys in Iraq, it is clear that Brandes understands the value of options better than most. He also understands the value that autonomous operation would have had for the soldiers in his convoys.
Speaking at the 5th Annual SmartDrivingCars Summit, Brandes’ takeaway from the conference as well as his experience in Florida with autonomous vehicle legislation is that, for the market to develop, it is important to have a light-touch regulatory environment.
An example of that light-touch regulation is the 2019 legislation championed by Brandes. This modification to existing Florida statutes allows insurance and existing traffic laws to serve as regulatory guardrails. Specifically, section 16, section 627.749 of the Florida statutes identifies the minimum insurance requirements (e.g., $1M liability).2
Staying Nimble #
One of the lessons from deployments of low-speed (<35 MPH) delivery vehicles is that they need to be able to operate for short distances on higher-speed arterials. This became clear as autonomous deliveries of groceries could not be made to neighborhoods cut-off from lower-speed roads.
Brandes spearheaded 2021 legislative efforts that modified existing statutes. The modifications provide an exemption for low-speed delivery vehicles to drive up to a mile on 45 MPH arterials. This sort of pragmatic solution could have a huge positive impact for those people with mobility challenges in food deserts.
Food delivery via autonomous vehicles is just one use-case that adds value to the everyday citizen. He sees value in autonomous transportation for the senior population, getting more value out of the existing road infrastructure, and creating a better paratransit operation. Brandes believes “you’re going to see amazing benefits (thanks to autonomous vehicles) over time.”
1Brandes termed out in 2022, according to this Tampa Bay Times profile of the State Senator.
2 This Viodi View summary provides additional detail on Brandes and Florida’s approach to the rollout of autonomous vehicles.
Coverage is provided by ViodiTV and CARTS.