Pittsburgh AV Testers Must Prove Public Interest, Necessity

Autonomous vehicle operators will have to prove testing AVs on Pittsburgh’s public roads is necessary and in the public interest before doing so.

That’s the key objective of an executive order on AV testing issued by the Pennsylvanian city’s mayor, William Peduto. The order mandates the city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DMI) to publish AV testing guidelines which “stipulate that testers articulate the necessity of testing on city streets and the manner in which testing may advance the city’s Principles for Shared and Autonomous Mobility and the broader public interest”.

These principles require operators to report to the DMI annually about how their tests comply with relevant AV policies, the promotion of low-cost, low-emission AV systems, and collaboration between industry and the community on deployment and development of AV tech.

The executive order also mandated the DMI to produce guidelines that would “complement and augment” existing guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, boost public awareness of when and where AV testing is happening, enable rapid communication between city authorities and testers in emergencies, and identify the data authorities would need to “understand the impact and opportunity of testing on public safety”.

A statement from Peduto’s office claimed “the order is the first of its kind to be issued by any city worldwide” but Boston mayor Martin Walsh also issued an executive order on AV testing in October 2016. However, Walsh’s order was optimistic about AVs’ potential to “significantly reduce roadway fatalities and serious crashes by expanding transportation choices and by using our roads more efficiently” rather than ordering operators to make a public interest case for testing.

All five operators developing AV systems in Pittsburgh – UberAptiv, Argo AI, Aurora, Carnegie Mellon University – attended the order’s signing.

 


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