Self-driving vehicles will soon make their debut in the big city. In the middle of September, Georgia Tech University will be setting up a trial run that will go through downtown Atlanta. That's right: This self-driving car will be mingling with other traffic. Why now? This trial run is part of the Safer Roads Challenge that’s taking place in two other major cities.
The autonomous vehicle’s route will begin on the Georgia Tech campus and make its way to North Avenue, one of Atlanta’s major roadways. It’s scheduled to drive a mile and a half down the street and to its destination, Ponce City Market. It’ll be a fully autonomous run, but there will be a human driver behind the wheel in case the technology malfunctions.
John Orr, Manager of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s transportation access group, believes that Atlanta needs to be at the forefront of self driving. He tells Atlanta Magazine that by doing so, they can set up regulations and be prepared for it.
“Transportation technology, which has developed rapidly, will transform the Atlanta region not just in terms of planning but of policy. It’s of critical importance that Atlanta gets out in front of this situation and not get left behind.”
Atlanta governor Nathan Deal approved a bill that permits self-driving vehicles on their public roads in May. It’s received full support from local car manufacturers and tech companies that will be involved with autonomous production. Georgia joins five other states in the country that allow self-driving vehicles in the wild, but most require some form of human supervision inside.
Known as the Smart Corridor project, North Avenue will be set up with numerous sensors, cameras, and GPS programs to help guide the self-driving vehicle to its destination. The Together For Safer Roads (TSR) organization is behind a challenge to find the world’s most accident-prone roads and to fix the problem with autonomous driving. Two other cities are involved in the challenge: Shanghai, China, and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
What is the Safer Roads Challenge? According to TSR’s website, up to a third of crashes on the road are work-related and “there were more than 329 million commercial vehicles on the world’s roads” in 2014. North Avenue’s Smart Corridor could be the beginning of further testing done on self-driving vehicles.
Greg Martin, TSR’s CEO, believes that companies should be more responsible for the well-being of their employees: “People are a company’s greatest asset, and the private sector must create a culture of safety for them. The private sector is known for its innovative spirit, creative thinking, and nimbleness in approaching challenges. Every company has a responsibility to bring this philosophy to road safety.”