Pittsburgh Looks to Boost Confidence in Autonomous Vehicles, Now Requires Crash Reports

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【Summary】Last year’s incident involving one of Uber’s self-driving cars that struck and killed a pedestrian, the city of Pittsburgh will require companies to report crashes that result in any injuries in an attempt to boost the public’s confidence in driverless technology.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Apr 16, 2019 10:00 AM PT
Pittsburgh Looks to Boost Confidence in Autonomous Vehicles, Now Requires Crash Reports

Getting the public to back autonomous vehicles is an uphill battle a lot of companies are facing. Ever since last year, when one of Uber's self-driving Volvos struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, the public has been wary about self-driving tech. A few years ago, a poll conducted by Morning Consult and Politico revealed that only 22 percent of registered voters in America believed that autonomous vehicles were safer than humans. 

The city of Pittsburgh is looking to help companies showcase all of the benefits of self-driving cars in an attempt to boost the public's confidence in the machines by requiring companies to report crashes that result in any injuries. The requirement is part of the city's new guidelines that were announced earlier this month and signed by Mayor Bill Peduto. 

Helping Companies Grow, While Keeping Things Safe

According to the Associated Press, Karina Ricks, director of the Pittsburgh's Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, the city was working on implementing similar guidelines before the unfortunate incident in Arizona. The accident, though, did move the timeline up a bit. "The Tempe incident raised the urgency for the guidelines," stated Ricks. 

The main thinking behind the new guidelines is ensuring that something like the incident that happened in Tempe doesn't happen again, and to allow the technology companies to continue to thrive in Pittsburgh. "We don't want that situation to happen again," said Raj Rajkumar, professor and co-director of the General Motors-Carnegie Mellon Vehicular Information Technology Collaborative Research Lab. "This indicates that the city wants the technology to develop, to evolve, to measure, and they want to work with the companies and the university where the technology was born."

The outlet claims that five of the major groups testing self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh, which includes Carnegie Mellon University, Aptiv, Argo AI, Uber, and Aurora Innovation, were supportive of Mayor Peduto's new guidelines. 

What The New Guidelines Entail

Based on Pittsburgh's guidelines, the five companies mentioned above have 30 days to submit information on where they will complete their autonomous testing, when (specific hours) they'll be testing, and possible safety plans, claims Ricks. For any new companies that are looking to test their vehicles in the city, they'll have to submit the same information 10 days before their vehicles hit public roads. 

When it comes to reporting crashes that result in any type of damage, companies will have to report those within three days. While these guidelines are drastically different than what Pittsburgh has in place at the moment, Peduto's orders also require companies to give the city more information overall. Each company that tests vehicles is now required to report total miles. Formal reports will be provided to the city every two years and those will be made available to the public, too. 

"We really want to find out is what you're doing. Let us understand how you are using our city streets," said Ricks. 

Having companies provide more information on what they're doing, how they're performing, and any issues that have come up is a step in the right direction for not only Pittsburgh, but for every major city in the U.S. It will be interesting to see how many cities adopt a similar set of guidelines down the road. 

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