Self-driving cars to hit Virginia roads for testing

We all like to complain sometimes about other drivers. But what if the car next to you in traffic has no driver at all? Self-driving cars will be hitting the road in northern Virginia in a test program.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute will be turning some northern Virginia roads into test tracks for computer-controlled cars. While advocates say this technology will put us on "cruise control" to the future, some drivers we spoke with say they would prefer these vehicles to hit the brakes.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute said it plans to test the self-driving cars' computer sensors and navigation on a test track in Blacksburg, Virginia first.

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute director Myra Blanco said the second step is to head out onto Virginia's roads.

"After we feel comfortable the vehicles are at a stage that can be actually deployed on real roads, then we would do so," she said.

The plan is to conduct the test drives on 70 miles of northern Virginia highways like Interstate 95, 495, 66 and on Route 29 and Route 50.

But while the cars are self-driving, a human driver will still have to be at the wheel in case of malfunctions.

"It feels like you are in part of the future," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte.

The Virginia congressman is a big backer of self-driving cars, but he said all of us will benefit from the research.

"They stop for red lights, they stop for pedestrians, amazing technology," he told us.

But how do drivers feel about this?

"I think we've been behind so it's about time that we caught up," said Steve Bowser.

"I'd rather drive my own car," said Gail Holland. "I don't want a machine to drive me."

The study is part of $55 million grant the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has received to study the burgeoning field of automated vehicles.

But there is real apprehension for the technology. A Harris Poll released last year found nine out of ten Americans said they would be worried about riding in a self-driving car.

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