As autonomous vehicle technology advances quickly towardÂ general use, researchers in Florida are nearly finished developing a test trackÂ where engineers can safelyÂ unleash those driverless cars, business leaders saidÂ Nov. 30.
In an announcement at the Florida Autonomous VehicleÂ Summit, developers released the latest sketches of the planned, 2.25-mile-long,Â "SunTrax" test track set onÂ a 475-acre plot in the state's Polk County, midway between Orlando and Tampa.
The $42 million oval track represents a long-term partnershipbetweenÂ the Florida Department ofÂ Transportation, Florida's Turnpike Enterprise, andÂ Florida Polytechnic University.
The Florida track will be the latest site designed for unmanned car testing. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation designated 10 "proving ground pilot sites" including the Michigan Technical Resource Park, in Ottawa Lake, Mich., and GoMentum Station in Concord, Calif.
Slated to be complete by spring 2021, Florida's Suntrax facility will be availableÂ for preliminary rental use next spring, offering what officials call the onlyÂ high-speed autonomous vehicleÂ testing facility in the southeastern U.S.
Visitors testing their experimental cars on the siteÂ will be able to choose from various environments on the 200-acre infield area,Â including:
The design is intended toÂ challenge autonomous vehicles by requiring them to navigate obstacles like:Â anÂ urban area with shipping containers used to replicate buildings, a suburbanÂ area, and an airport pickÂ up/drop off area, officials said.