PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When a pedestrian walking her bike was killed in Tempe, Ariz., by an autonomous self-driving Uber vehicle, officials in Pennsylvania took notice, especially since this region has become a focal point of testing for highly automated vehicles or HAVs.
“We hope our action plan will allow continued HAV research and development in Pennsylvania, while offering a framework to help build confidence that this work advances with safety as our highest priority at all times,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards said in Pittsburgh on Monday.
Richards unveiled an action plan to ensure nobody gets hurt from autonomous vehicles while testing continues.
“The intent is not to slow it down nor halt it, but to make sure it moves forward in a very safe manner,” she said.
The plan includes submission of detailed company information, verification that federal and state safety standards are met, certification of driver training, list of vehicles involved, routes for testing and proof of insurance.
At least six entities are involved with HAVs in this area, including Aptiv, Argo AI, Aurora Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University and Uber, although Uber suspended testing while national highway traffic officials investigate the Arizona tragedy.
One problem in Pennsylvania — the safety plan is voluntary because the General Assembly has not yet passed legislation to empower PennDOT to regulate autonomous vehicle safety.
But Richards expects full compliance.
“It’s in the best interest of the testers — it’s in the best interest of the industry — that we walk in the same direction with the public. They don’t want to be fighting the public every step of the way either,” she said.