Driverless bus makes debut in Georgia at start of US tour

(Courtesy: The Alliance for Transportation Innovation / Facebook)

AUSTELL, Ga. (AP) - A shuttle bus that drove itself - along with human passengers - through a course in a parking lot near Atlanta is embarking on a tour that will include stops in Texas and California.

The Alliance for Transportation Innovation offered rides in the 12-person bus on Thursday in Austell, Georgia.

A key goal of Thursday's demonstration and future ones is to give people a chance to see a driverless vehicle up-close and ride in one, officials said.

Public acceptance is one of the main challenges to getting the vehicles into use on city streets and highways, said Paul Brubaker, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Transportation Innovation.

Rules and laws in some states pose additional challenges for the industry, Brubaker said.

"Self-driving vehicles will change the way we live, work and play," Brubaker said in a statement. "They will improve safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike."

The vehicles could also relieve traffic congestion, he added.

Similar demonstrations are planned for Monday in New Orleans; Feb. 2 in Arlington, Texas; Feb. 6 in Los Angles and Feb. 9 in San Jose, California.

The Alliance for Transportation Innovation is not-for-profit group that advocates for the adoption of new technologies on behalf of transportation technology firms.