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Audi to let driverless car loose on Selmon Expressway (video)

TAMPA — Elevated commuter lanes on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway will close for hours in the coming days so Audi can offer demonstrations of its latest driverless car.

The expressway that connects downtown Tampa and Brandon is one of just 10 approved sites nationwide where researchers can study the safety and performance of automated vehicles. Florida is one of three states that allow self-driving cars to be tested on public roads.

The tollway's reversible lanes will be closed Sunday to traffic during nonpeak hours for testing, and Monday for demonstrations put on by the German car company.

The company hasn't decided yet how it will choose people to try out its car. But those drivers shouldn't expect to speed down the expressway while occupied with other tasks like reading a book or checking a smartphone.

Instead, a traffic jam will be re-created with several other vehicles to test the automated car's sensor capabilities. Plus, the driverless car is unable to direct itself at speeds greater than 40 mph, said Bradley Stertz, a communications manager for Audi.

Audi has joined the race to develop an automated car with the most advanced technology. Its latest model, the Sport Quatro Laserlight, was unveiled at a show in April. It boasts computer technology the size of an iPad.

"It looks like a regular car but with technology built into it," Stertz said. "You wouldn't know the difference when you see it riding down the road."

Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi will attend Monday and get an opportunity to catch a ride, Sterz said.

Contact Liz Crampton at ecrampton@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3401. Follow @liz_crampton.

>>fast facts

Lanes to close

The elevated reversible lanes of the Selmon Expressway will close to traffic from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday. On both days, the gates at Meridian Avenue and at 34th Street will be closed. The gates at the U.S. 301 ramp will be open for eastbound traffic.

Audi to let driverless car loose on Selmon Expressway (video) 07/24/14 [Last modified: Friday, July 25, 2014 7:26am]
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