Babcock Ranch gives self-driving car demonstrations

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson
Published: Updated:

People hopped inside brand new self-driving cars at Babcock Ranch Wednesday to see what the future of driving might look like.

The technology that runs these driver-less cars is very similar to the technology behind the self-driving school bus that was taken off the roads by the feds just one month ago.

Dawn McConnell from Port Charlotte was willing to try it out.

“I thought it was going to be very experimental and very scary,” she said.

The car that drives all by itself is just one of the latest innovations at Babcock Ranch.

At the demonstration, groups went for a ride with a safety attendant to see how it works, and stopped for pedestrians. Some passengers came back surprised.

“My parents are in their 90’s and they could have used it the last several years just getting in their cars and say ‘I just need to go to the doctors’ and be able to go without them having to remember how to get there,” McConnell said.

Syd Kitson, the CEO of Kitson and Partners says that Babcock Ranch is a “living laboratory.”

“We want to continue to be that, we want to take that as far as we can,” he said.

But maybe they pushed too far a month ago when Babcock Ranch was letting one of their driver-less shuttles take kids to school. Government officials shut the route down.

“The school was not involved in that in the first place, that was more of an independent program so we stopped doing that,” Kitson said.

As for the self-driving cars, Babcock Ranch hopes to have them operating at the Ranch next year.

Public Demonstration Days:
Wednesday, Dec. 12 through Friday, Dec. 14
9:30 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.
9:30 a.m. – 1:45 p.m.
Location: Babcock Ranch – Old School Building, 42850 Crescent Loop; Babcock Ranch, FL 33982 (For GPS navigation, use Punta Gorda as the city.) Upon arrival check in at the welcome desk. Here’s a link with information to sign up to drive a self-driving vehicle on Babcock ranch.

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