Pittsburgh just set guidelines for self-driving vehicle testing here

Mayor Bill Peduto signed an executive order Monday.

Mayor Bill Peduto announces an executive order governing self-driving vehicle testing.

Mayor Bill Peduto announces an executive order governing self-driving vehicle testing.

MJ slaby / the incline
MJ Slaby

Updated March 5

Pittsburgh leaders on Monday released guidelines for testing self-driving vehicles in the city, and a four-part executive order from Mayor Bill Peduto asks testers to meet the city’s expectations and goals.

Karina Ricks, director of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, outlined the order’s requirements at a morning press conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

  • The Department of Mobility and Infrastructure will be the city’s point of contact for testers.
  • The department will create guidelines for testing operations.
  • Mobility and Infrastructure will create a series of policies so the city is ready for future deployment of self-driving vehicles and will give an annual public report.
  • The five testers in Pittsburgh will be partners with the city and respect the city’s guidelines.

The city also released an initial outline of the department’s testing guidelines and submission process for testers, which will be asked to submit information about its company and fleet, as well as when and where the fleet is operating and in what weather conditions.

The guidelines were designed in anticipation that there will be more testers in Pittsburgh in the future, Ricks said.

The order expects testers will respect the guidelines but doesn’t outline penalties if they fail to do so, Ricks said. She added that following the guidelines has a “mutual benefit” for the city and testers.

Representatives from each self-driving tester in Pittsburgh were present at the press conference: Aptiv, Argo AI, Aurora Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University and Uber. They expressed excitement for the executive order and working with the city.

“What we want to be able to do is work hand in hand with the autonomous vehicle industry to be a leading city once again,” Peduto said, adding that he wants to address issues early to ensure equity. The executive order also prioritizes automated driving systems that emphasize high vehicle occupancy, lower or no emissions and equitable transportation options.

Peduto was an early advocate for self-driving vehicles, however, he’s had a somewhat contentious relationship with testers and has asked them to give back to the community they were testing in.

Currently, there are no laws that specifically address self-driving vehicles. PennDOT has interim oversight of testing and asks for a “notice of testing” from each company. While not required, PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards has stressed it was a good idea for companies to cooperate in anticipation of possible legislation. All five companies testing in Pittsburgh have submitted notice to the state.

This article has corrected the name of the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure.