Self-Driving Cars are on the Road in Atlanta

The future is here. Just a few years ago, it seemed like driverless car technology was a futuristic invention. But now driverless cars are already on the road, even in places like Atlanta.

In a CBS 46 news report, Bryan Mulligan, president of Applied Information, took reporter Vince Sims on a demonstration with a self-driving Tesla through Fulton County. Although many people envision self-driving cars operating without anyone at the wheel, they still require a driver paying attention to the road.

“If it says that I’m not engaged enough with it, it will tell me to put my hands on the wheel,” Mulligan told Sims. “It’s not trying to substitute me as a driver, what it’s trying to do is keep me safe.”

Even though some self-driving cars use a camera on the windshield to read speed limit signs and make adjustments, they still have limitations requiring driver intervention. For example, the cars use sensors to detect markings on the road. However, unmarked roads or construction zones could confuse the sensors, so in those situations drivers should take over.

“So you still have a driver but now you have layers of technology shielding you as well,” Mulligan said. “So now to have an accident both of you have to make a mistake and the technology has to make a mistake.”

Dwight Dozier, a self-driving car owner in Atlanta, also told CBS 46 that the cars show a lot of promise, but still require your attention.

“I think it’s promising. You still have to mind some of the attention to the wheel, for example there’s occasions when the lines in the road get faint, or night time, or weather conditions,” Dozier said.

While some drivers remain skeptical about the need for the technology, many tout the safety and efficiency of driverless cars. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, has been one of the staunchest supporters of this technology.

In October 2016, Musk even said he promises to make a Tesla by the end of 2017 that can drive itself from Los Angeles to New York with no human intervention.

He even went so far as to say that critics who write negatively about self-driving cars are “killing people” because they’re actually two times safer than a car with a human driver.

Self-driving technology still has a long way to go, but the early models show some promise here on Atlanta’s streets and in cities across the country.