Tampa is test track for connected cars

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Before we get to driverless cars, engineers say we'll drive connected cars. All new cars are required to have the connected technology by 2021, but first, it’s being tested in Tampa. 

Monday, we had a ride in a connected car on the top level of the Selmon Expressway. The car is equipped with sensors that pick up everything around us -- other vehicles and the highway. 

"The real driving factor behind it is the safety application," explained consultant Steve Johnson, who helped Tampa land one of just three test sites in the nation. 

He says it will have far-reaching effects on familiar hazards of distracted drivers. "We believe this technology will eventually prevent all those distracted driver accidents.”

Tampa and its elevated expressway were chosen for the testing because traffic from the expressway quickly dumps into an urban area with pedestrians and mass transit. The testing will connect streetcars and even pedestrians to help improve the technology. 

Engineers say it's the first step to autonomous, driverless cars. 

"It will be the final safety step to move to autonomous in the future," added Johnson.

The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority is looking for drivers and pedestrians to help in the testing. Commuters who drive the Selmon would have equipment installed in their car and receive a discount on tolls. Pedestrians who live downtown would be given an app. 

For more information, visit https://www.tampacvpilot.com/