SAE International offers public a self-driving car demonstration on Florida expressway


SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers), together with its partners Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) and State Senator Jeff Brandes, are inviting the public to take a ride in a self-driving car on a Florida freeway next week.

For three days next week (May 8-11), the general public will be invited to take a test drive in an autonomous vehicle from Perrone Robotics on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa. The inaugural SAE Demo Day is an opportunity for the public to experience self-driving technology and share their feedback about the ride.

SAE International seeks to understand the public’s attitude toward autonomous and self-driving technology through this event as part of its long-term research into new mobility systems and their impact on society.

Riders will be asked questions before, during and after the ride about their perception and their comfort level with autonomous vehicles. The information gathered will allow SAE International to identify areas to improve public education and understanding of autonomous vehicles.

At the launch event, there will be experts available to speak about the importance of public acceptance and education in the development of new transportation technology. Additionally, participants can experience a Velodyne lidar virtual reality environment, and interact with a Voyage self-driving car.

“Public comfort and acceptance of self-driving vehicles is crucial for their success, both in the near-term of testing and the future of widespread use,” explained SAE International’s chief product officer, Frank Menchaca.

“SAE International serves as a convener, working with technology companies, auto manufacturers and government to safely advance autonomous vehicle development. This demo day brings the most important audience to the dialog – the public.”

Joe Waggoner, CEO of THEA, said, “We are excited to welcome SAE International to Tampa and to be able to partner with them on this event. From our real-time testing of connected vehicle technology to our award-winning reversible express lanes, THEA continues to drive the conversation on cutting-edge transportation solution for the Tampa Bay region.”

Senator Jeff Brandes commented, “I am incredibly grateful that SAE International is bringing this self-driving ‘hands-off’ demo to Tampa Bay. Our residents will be able to experience the future of transportation and provide feedback that will be invaluable to industry leaders and policymakers as we chart a course toward the shared, electric, and autonomous future.”

Dave Hofert, CMO of Perrone Robotics, added, “We are very pleased to support SAE International in this effort. Our company mission is to enable broad-based autonomous mobility of all kinds, and we believe that public engagement will drive awareness and acceptance of these vehicles. Through this demo, people will experience autonomous driving and can better make informed decisions about how autonomy could fit into their lives.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).