The Florida Department of Transportation has entered a long-term partnership with Florida Polytechnic University to construct the new, state-of-the-art transportation testing facility, SunTrax. This facility is meant to establish the Sunshine State as a high-tech hub for the development and testing of transportation technologies related to tolling, ITS, and automated and connected vehicles.
SunTrax includes a 2.25 mile oval track on a 400-acre site in Polk County, halfway between Tampa and Orlando. Florida Secretary of Transportation Jim Boxold said, “SunTrax at Florida Polytechnic places the future of tolling and technology testing squarely in the Sunshine State. This facility creates a partnership between the public and private sectors to tackle new technology challenges facing the industry for our road users.”
Florida Poly President Dr. Randy Avent said, “The SunTrax partnership is an exciting venture for Florida Polytechnic University and an unparalleled economic driver for the State of Florida. This joint facility for research, development and testing of advanced transportation concepts will greatly increase our opportunities for faculty research and industry partnerships. As a University founded in the practice of applied research, we look forward to these increased opportunities that SunTrax will bring to our faculty, students and the State of Florida as a whole.”
The Tampa Bay area is no stranger to innovation. Back in 2014, the Selmon Expressway served as one of only 10 sites in the U.S. where researchers could study the performance of autonomous cars. The initial phase of the project will focus on the creation of an innovative toll testing facility.
The 200-acre infield of the track will become a the site to research automated vehicles. Students at the University will be given the opportunity to assist in the research. Future plans include a simulated city center, suburban and rural roadways and a learning laboratory.