Imagine jumping in your car and having it drive you to work every morning.

That could soon be reality and Tampa is one of few cities in the country where the US Department of Transportation is investing money to test driverless cars and smart highway capabilities.

The work is being done on the Selmon Expressway in Tampa and Tuesday transportation leaders will meet to discuss how the highway will be able to “talk” to your car and tell it how to steer you away from danger and traffic tie ups.

What happens Tuesday:

Some of the nation’s top transportation officials will team up with car engineers and local leaders Tuesday to talk about how Tampa will drive the future for transportation.

They’ll be talking about ways you will soon use a driverless car and how our existing highways can be altered to help.

They’re also expected to have simulators for you to check out on Franklin Street near Lykes Gaslight Square Park to show everyone how they work.

Why Tampa is being used as a test market:

Transportation leaders chose Tampa as one of the first cities to test driverless cars and smart highways because we’ve already been on the cutting edge with cameras and technology traffic management centers.

Self-driving vehicles, aren’t just a futuristic dream. They’re running on the streets of Arizona, California, Washington and Texas; and they are being tested right now on the Selmon Expressway in Tampa.

Are the driverless cars actually safer?

The driverless cars use a combination of cameras, radar and GPS to know where they are on the road and the obstacles, like other cars and pedestrians around them.

The makers of these cars will tell you they’re safer because they can steer your car away from danger, like stalled cars or pedestrians. Yet, on the flip side, some worry about the technology getting hacked.

In April, engineers and safety advocates told the government that self-driving cars are more likely to be a threat than a boost to public safety because of unresolved technical issues. But supporters argue people were nervous about cruise control when it was first launched too and there have been few issues with that technology.

What about traffic? Will driverless cars help alleviate Tampa’s bad traffic tieups?

Interestingly, some traffic researchers say it will make traffic worse. If your car could do the driving for you, wouldn’t you use it more?

Traffic in Tampa is expected to worsen as more people move here over the next 10 years, and some Hillsborough County leaders say you can expect to double or triple your commute time.

Now imagine this: robot cars taking your kids to school or sports practice. Sending your car to pick up groceries you’ve ordered online. ¬†Researchers believe the number of miles driven will skyrocket.
Cars traveled a record 3.1 trillion miles in the U.S. last year. Some transportation leaders expect driverless cars will increase that amount by 2 trillion miles every year by 2050.

Traffic is one of many topics that could come up at Tuesday’s transportation summit.
It starts at 9:30 AM and runs until 11:30 a.m. at the Hilton Tampa Downtown.