Florida DOT’s SunTrax facility to test driverless vehicles now under construction

The 465-acre facility is expected to be completed by 2021

September 12, 2019
Florida DOT's SunTrax facility includest multi-scenario infield for driverless testing
Florida DOT's SunTrax facility includes multi-scenario infield for driverless testing

Florida DOT is presently deep into construction of SunTrax, a 465-acre facility to test autonomous vehicles in Auburndale.

Crews began construction on the $42.5 million outer track, which will enable testing at high speeds, in June 2017, and completed the 2.25-mile-long oval in April 2019. The multi-lane track is at present the only high-speed autonomous car testing facility in the southeastern U.S. Shortly after construction of the outer ring test track ended, Governor Ron Desantis signed CS/HB 311 into law at SunTrax. The bill, which went into effect on July 1, allows fully autonomous cars to operate on public roads without a driver in the front seat as a backup.

In addition to the outer test track, construction is proceeding on a 200-acre infield that, when complete, will feature a variety of testing scenarios, such as a mini-city, a simulated airport drop off and pick up location, and a roadway geometry track where researchers will test how vehicles handle different terrain. A 28-acre paved open space being called the technology pad will also be included in the infield. It will have sensors underneath that will send signals to the cars to simulate any real-life situation, such as navigating a busy street in downtown Tampa or other comparable urban setting.

Construction is expected to start on the infield this coming October and is estimated to be completed in the winter of 2021.