Self-driving cars well on the way

Automatic cars are well on the way to becoming a reality.

ST. PETERSBURG - One day in the not-so-distant future, you will likely get in your car and it will drive you, hands free.

“It's amazing how quickly this technology is coming online,” said St. Pete state senator Jeff Brandes.

Brandes is a big proponent of automated cars. Last week, he rode inside of an Uber in Pittsburgh – the first city where the ride-sharing company rolled out the new self-driving technology.

Brandes said they have about 100 cars on the road so far.

“After a while you just get kind of comfortable with it, and very used to the fact that the car is driving very, very well.”

During his experience, a driver was in the front at all times and only touched the steering wheel once. 

“I think people are going to get very comfortable with the fact that these cars are going to be able to drive safer than a human driver,” Brandes said.

There have been some issues reported with the cars in Pittsburgh. One man posted to Facebook a self-driving Uber going the wrong way on a one-way street, unsure if it was the driver or technology at fault. And there was another report of a fender bender.

If you feel worried, concerned or anxious about this, you're not alone.

A study from AAA found three of four U.S. drivers are afraid to ride in self-driving cars.

“It was a little freaky to see. It's unusual, we're not used to it,” said Vicky Tullman, a Tampa driver.

“But, in my opinion, I think eventually it is the future and it will cut down on driver deaths.”

“I remember some Arnold Schwarzenegger movie I saw when I was a kid and he's driving down the road paying no attention, just set it to go there, I always thought it was a great idea, very cool,” said Michael Schafer, another Tampa driver.

“So, seeing somebody actually do it and not just hearing 'Oh it's the future,' is really cool to see that.”

While there's serious concern, some auto experts have insisted the technology will save lives.

“I think it's important to realize that 94 percent of all accidents are caused by human error,” Brandes said.

“I truly believe my kids may never learn to drive.”

More: Florida State University study of automated vehicles

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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