FL Polytech students focus on driver-less cars

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Driver-less cars could be here sooner than you think.

Students at Florida Polytechnic University in Polk County took their final exam in a course called Autonomous Systems and Self-Driving Vehicles and their creations almost seemed like science fiction.

But there's nothing fictional about 20-year-old student Brian Ganster's prediction.

He says, in a couple of decades, "I really don't see people driving cars anymore." 

The course is taught by Dr. Dean Bushey, who says the move toward self-driving cars is well underway.

"Automated vehicles will be on the road by 2021," he explained. "Tesla would say earlier. I'd say widespread adoption is going to be by 2030, so we're at the upswing and just the right time." 

Bushey believes the university will become a national center for automated vehicle research.

This summer, the Florida Department of Transportation will break ground on a 400-acre facility designed to test new toll-taking methods and automated vehicles. The facility, called Suntrax, will be three miles from campus and will also utilize the nearby Polk Parkway for testing. 

Bushey says companies coming to test cars will also see Poly and its students.

"There are hundreds of companies that would like to employ these students," he said.

His students will be among the first generation to design cars for passengers only, and no drivers.