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Uber may bring self-driving vehicles, more to Florida if transportation bills pass

Orlando soon may see self-driving vehicles on the road and other related services if new rules for ridesharing companies are passed in the 2017 Legislature.

“We are exploring other products we use in the U.S. to bring to Florida,” Uber Florida Public Affairs Manager Javi Correoso told Orlando Business Journal, explaining that it all depends on the results of the bills supporting transportation network companies. “We do have other products like driverless vehicles in Pittsburgh, and they were implemented in Arizona this week. Florida has favorable bills and laws on it books for driverless vehicles.”

Correoso said Uber also could expand its other services in Florida such as Uber Pool, which allows customers to share rides if they are going to similar destinations. Orlando is one of the destinations to have the on-demand meal delivery service Uber Eats.

The Florida House of Representatives’ Government and Accountability Committee voted favorably 21-1 Tuesday on House Bill 221 by Reps. Jamie Grant(R-Tampa) and Chris Sprawls (R-Clearwater.), as previously reported by OBJ’s sister paper the Tampa Bay Business Journal. The House bill now heads to a full floor vote.

Correoso said another similar transportation network bill, SB 340, is waiting to be voted on by the entire House, and it should move along quickly. Last year it died in the Senate, but Correoso hopes it will pass this year.

He said if passed, these bills would require Uber to disclose the driver’s vehicle type (make, model, year and license plate number) to the potential rider in advance. There also will be a screening process and background check of prospective drivers. Uber also would obtain and view the prospective driver’s driving history, including if they have any DUI citations, speeding tickets, a reckless driving record or other driving-related accidents. The fare also would be disclosed to the consumer beforehand.

The bill, HB 221, would require drivers and/or companies to carry insurance for $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person up to $100,000 per incident and $25,000 for property damage while a driver is logged into a transportation network company’s platform. That’s well above the state insurance minimums for regular drivers, which is $10,000 for death or bodily injury up to $20,000 per incident and $10,000 for property damage.

“It’s this commitment that has increased safe mobility options for residents and the more than 110 million visitors to our state, and created local partnerships to address transit challenges,” Correoso told TBBJ.

In addition, there’s language in the bill that would prohibit airports from charging Uber higher fees than what they charge taxi cabs. For example, Orlando International Airport currently charges Uber a $10 pick-up fee, while it charges taxis $1, Correoso told OBJ.

The bills would create a uniform set of standards for rideshare companies in the state, Correoso said.