Tampa, Florida -- Tampa Bay today was literally paving the way to what might be the future of driving.
The reversible express lanes of the Selmon Expressway were closed to test a new technology that would allow cars to do the driving for people.
The automated car technology from German automaker Audi allows a driver to concentrate on other things while the car drives itself at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, staying in its lane, slowing down and speeding up for traffic as needed.
Outside the laboratory, the Audi A7 test car may look standard, but what's on the inside takes driving an "automatic" to a whole new level.
"What we're trying to do is we're trying to solve a very tedious task that we all have to go through," said Filip Brabec, Audi of America's director of product management.
More than just a convenience, designers of the "piloted driving system" say it's safer, too.
There's no GPS, or cell phone technology. It uses an onboard computer, and close to two dozen cameras and sensors to make millions of calculations per second that keep the car in traffic, and allow it to avoid accidents faster than any human could react.
At higher speeds it tells the driver to retake control.
"When a car pulled in front of us it immediately slowed down," said Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who tried the car for himself today.
Scott called it a "smooth ride."
Florida is one of only three states so far to have paved the road for this technological testing.
The Selmon Expressway one of only 10 test sites.
Scott hopes that distinction will give the state an edge in attracting jobs related to the technology to Florida, and ultimately, save lives.
"I remember when my two daughters were learning to drive that was probably the scariest part – are they gonna stop in time?" said Scot. , "You know, if they were in one of these cars, they would stop in time."
While the "traffic jam pilot" lets the vehicle operator do more productive things during an otherwise tedious commute, people still have to pay attention.
Drivers need to be ready to take the wheel with just 10 seconds notice.
If its tests are successful, Audi says it could have cars with this technology ready to hit the road within five years.
The Audi technology is making news: