The real world test of self-driving cars is in progress in more places. From California to Georgia, Pennsylvania to Arizona, the U.S. is asking how autonomous vehicles will impact our infrastructure, auto industry, and society.

Car makers, municipalities, and everyday drivers and passengers are preparing to see what happens when driverless cars actually hit the road.

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Experimental Cars On The Real Road
North Carolina, Iowa, Michigan, and most recently Georgia are just a few of the earliest test track sites for self-driving cars. The test tracks are meant to provide an opportunity for self-driving cars to navigate roads in real-world traffic settings with various patterns and navigational factors.

The new North Avenue project in Atlanta, GA is set to become one of the larger test tracks in an urban setting.

A Test For Automated Urban Driving
While the self-driving cars will have a rider present to take control if needed, the North Avenue project autos will be equipped with sensors and navigation devices that give the vehicle the ability to communicate with infrastructure surroundings like traffic signals.

The self-driving cars will also be able to communicate with other autonomous vehicles to send alerts on road conditions and potential hazards. Cameras will be equipped throughout the track so that live video can be analyzed to see how major traffic events and patterns impact the flow and response of the vehicles.


Getting Ready For A Driverless Road Trip
In California, Tesla Inc. began testing autonomous cars on public roads last year. They have clocked a total of 550 miles between October and November.

The ride hasn’t always been completely smooth, as human riders have had to take control of the wheel to avoid accidents or compensate for technical problems fairly often, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk is still working towards an autonomous cross-country trip, from LA to NY by the end of this year.

Automated Vehicle Ride-Sharing
If you’re in Arizona, specifically in the Tempe area, you may have a chance to take a ride in a new self-driving car, as Uber has incorporated an autonomous Volvo XC90 SUV as an option on their ride-sharing platform.

The SUV will still have two engineers seated upfront and ready to take the wheel as needed. Uber’s autonomous ride in Arizona comes after the option was launched in Pittsburgh last September, and in response to disagreements with California’s DMV restrictions.

Credit: Steve Jurvetson

With these and other developments, tech companies, automakers, ride-share providers, and state and city government are making widespread self-driving possibilities more of a probability. How soon and how seamlessly that happens will depend on these and other real-world road experiments.

Are you eager to see how they play out?

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