Florida in the Fast Lane of Driverless Car Research

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jul 19, 2016
and last updated 2017-05-30 08:19:16-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- Driverless cars may seem like a thing of the far-off future, but Florida State University researchers say they could hit the mainstream market in the next decade.

"The future is coming and it's driverless cars," said Tim Chapin, Interim Dean of Social Sciences and Public Policy at FSU.

Living like the Jetsons isn't so far-fetched anymore, at least when it comes to getting around town.

Researchers at FSU say advances with driverless cars are coming full speed ahead, and the Sunshine State is in the fast lane when it comes to figuring out how to use this new technology.

"The state is doing a lot of work looking at the technology, how it functions on the roadways, how are infrastructural needs to adapt to accommodate driverless cars," said Chapin

One of the biggest changes experts predict won't even have to do with driving at all, but where we put the cars when they're not in use.

That's because researchers say more people will rely on car services, sharing rides instead of owning cars.

"We don't need big parking lots next to every building, so sort of figuring out our land use patterns. And the impacts of the technology changing in changing how we use the space," explained Chapin.

A longer commute doesn't sound that bad if someone - or something - else is doing all the work, leaving you free to stream your favorite show or catch some 'ZZZ.

That could also change the housing market entirely, as people trade in city living for more land and some fresh air.

"If you can get in your car and be on the Internet or read or listen to music or sleep, you might want to live further out. So one of the questions is what will that mean for how we live and where we live," said Chapin.

Driverless cars could also make a big impact on how the entire country does business.

This automated technology will be able to move products in a snap and cut down on transportation costs altogether.

"We're also looking at the impact on the freight industry... moving goods throughout the state and out of our ports areas more efficiently and more economically," said Chapin.

And we may only be a few years before you no longer need to worry about keeping your hands on the wheel.

Experts say you can already see traces of the driverless technology in vehicle now, like braking assistance and blind spot recognition.

President Obama had pledged $4 billion in funding over the next 10 years to help speed along the process of creating more driverless cars.