As you might imagine, the driver-less cars are big news in The Villages, where the newspaper, The Villages Daily Sun, has announced that there will be a drawing to pick the name of the resident who gets to take the first autonomous-vehicle ride.
Mark it on your calendar.
But if you look again, and you notice a pair of hands reaching for the 10 and 2 o’clock position on the wheel, or maybe the top of a golf cap. And then you realize there is a driver there, just not one who rises above the dashboard.
You’re driving on I-95, and you look at the car in the next lane, and it appears to be going down the road by itself.
But if all goes smoothly, the back-up-human drivers will disappear, and residents will just get in and out of empty cars that take them where they want to go.
Think of him or her as the automotive John Glenn of Florida’s condos — the first Floridian to orbit the clubhouse in an autonomous vehicle.
Let’s hope this works. If all goes well at The Villages, we may see them here one day here, a string of driver-less cars pulling in and out of the parking lots of Walgreen’s, Costco and Publix.
In the upcoming weeks, they’ll be in The Villages, a sprawling age-restricted community that includes parts of Marion and Lake counties. The 123,000 residents there are going to be Florida’s pioneers in this new technology.
And if this spreads to other retirement communities across the state, they could end up being the safest spots for travel. Imagine that.