Join Us, Share Feedback on Pennsylvania’s Future in Transportation Technology

By: Leslie S. Richards, Secretary of Transportation

December 12, 2016

Back in June, I was excited and honored to join state and private-sector representatives to announce Pennsylvania’s Autonomous Vehicles Testing Policy Task Force and its mission to create a framework for testing highly automated vehicles (HAVs) in Pennsylvania. PennDOT chairs the task force, which aims to balance public safety with innovation while providing flexibility to keep the state in the forefront of this innovative technology with huge potential.

The task force has delivered its recommended guidance to me and I invite the public to join us for a public online forum today to review the report. Since HAVs will bring major changes to our transportation system, this is a great opportunity to hear firsthand about what these technologies — everything from self-driving cars to vehicles that communicate with infrastructure – will mean for our future.

The online public meeting will start at 7 p.m. tonight. You can join the meeting by visiting our automated vehicle testing page and clicking on the webinar link at the time of the meeting.

During the live webcast, I’ll join the department’s task force co-chairs, as well as the authors of the draft policy, to present the recommendations. They will also answer questions submitted before and during the meeting. You can review the policy on PennDOT’s website and ask questions of the panelists during the online meeting. Email questions to penndotav@pa.gov.

We’re also accepting public feedback through Jan. 12, 2017 – just email your comments to penndotav@pa.gov.

The guidance is the result of months of collaboration among state, federal, and private-industry officials, such as the Federal Highway Administration, AAA, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), General Motors, Uber, the University of Pennsylvania, SAE and the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association. PennDOT chaired the task force.

Pennsylvania-Future-Transportation-Technology

Safety was paramount in the Task Force’s approach. Among its recommendations:

  • Testers of highly automated vehicles (HAVs) must submit testing proposals to PennDOT and enter contracts attesting that the vehicles meet all federal and state safety standards and meet the policies adopted by PennDOT.
  • PennDOT has to be notified prior to any HAV being used without an operator in fully self-driving mode.
  • PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission may temporarily restrict HAVs from certain routes. Otherwise, HAVs may be tested on any road in the state. Municipalities can also ask PennDOT to temporarily restrict HAVs on local routes.
  • Platooning of HAVs will be restricted to two commercial or three passenger vehicles. However, testers can ask to use more HAVs in platooning, but PennDOT can ask for a safety demonstration first.
  • The HAVs must be able to record data that can be used to investigate crashes involving the HAVs. PennDOT will have access to the data.
  • Testers must certify that cybersecurity protections are in place for the HAVs.
  • PennDOT will collect data on total miles operated by HAVs, total number of hours of operation, and size of HAV fleets. PennDOT may also ask for other information such as counties where HAVs are being tested and percentage of testing done on limited access highways.

Adoption of policies will be contingent on the enactment of authorizing legislation in the next session in 2017.

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