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Atlanta’s driverless car debut all set for Midtown in September

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Trial run will traverse North Avenue from Georgia Tech to Ponce City Market

Google's self-driving car prototype looks like a gumdrop with wheels.
Driverless cars are coming!
Google

Imagine Atlanta roads if drivers weren’t distracted by cell phones, didn’t cut each other off, and got in the appropriate lane to make a turn more than five feet from an intersection.

Impossible, right?

But that could be the future with driverless cars, as has been touted by those in the know for at least the last year. Turns out, the future may be closer than we think.

According to Atlanta magazine, the first run of a fully autonomous car on Atlanta streets will take place in just six weeks, thanks to a pilot program championed by Georgia Tech, the City of Atlanta, and other tech-oriented organizations.

The test will take place along North Avenue, with a car departing Georgia Tech’s campus and negotiating the relatively straight thoroughfare a mile-and-a-half eastward to Ponce City Market. (Don’t fret: An actual human being will be on board in case the technology lays an egg).

Atlanta is one of just three cities around the world that will be testing the technology as part of the Safer Roads Challenge. North Avenue is being tricked out with all sorts of fancy equipment to make it a “smart corridor” to test the technology.

While the test is just a very early step in wider deployment of autonomous vehicles in the city, Sept. 14 could be the first day of the future for Atlanta.

Maybe one day we’ll celebrate the anniversary as the day the traffic and parking lots that dominate the metro area began to meet their maker.