Self driving vehicles may be closer to reality than you think

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TOLEDO (13abc Action News) - The future of the auto industry is here. Driverless cars and trucks will be on the road in a matter of years. Connected and automated vehicle technologies were part of the focus of a transportation summit here in Toledo Friday. It was put on by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council Of Governments or TMACOG.

A recent AAA poll shows that a lot of Ohioans are concerned about the safety of driverless vehicles. In addition to those concerns, most people surveyed say they think the technology won't be available for at least another decade.But experts point out that some of the technology is already on the road, and they're trying to stay ahead of the curve in Michigan and Ohio.

The Ohio Turnpike is one of the places this new technology is being tested. Tony Yacobucci is the Chief Engineer for the turnpike., "Anything we can do to make the road safer and a better place to travel we are all for it."

Testing on self driving semis is already underway. Right now, two people ride in the rigs as the testing is being done, "They wanted to see how some of this technology would be in a real environment, not a closed environment. They've mapped the road and they've run the road."

Hundreds of people from public and private entities were part of today's discussion. Bob Kazmierczik is the Director of Automotive Services for AAA,"People are concerned about what will happen out there and the importance of an event like this is making sure people are informed."

Research shows that many Americans are concerned driverless vehicles will lead to more accidents.Experts say they believe it will actually make the roads safer because the technology doesn't get distracted. Michigan Department of Transportation leaders say will decrease accidents and improve traffic flow. Matt Smith is ITS Program Manager for MDOT,"We still have 1,000 or more people dying every year on Michigan roads, despite all our safety,education and enforcement efforts. This technology will be proactive in driving down the number of fatalities.We all want that number to be 0."

A lot of newer vehicles already have some autonomous technology on board like park assist, lane departure warnings and automatic braking. Jim Barbaresso is a Senior Vice President of HNTB, a national transportation engineering firm,"These are the types of systems that will get the consumer on board with automation. When all those functions are integrated within the vehicle, that's the key to taking the next step towards full automated vehicles."

While a lot of people may think this technology sounds futuristic, Kazmierczik and everyone else we spoke with today says think again, "Within five years we will see some of this happening. There will be self driving vehicles on the road. With the infrastructure going in here in Ohio for the technology, it will be great for the state to be on the front side of this innovation."