Pennsylvania will remain an integral player in the development of self-driving vehicles, but ensuring that the roads are safe must be the state’s top priority, said PennDOT secretary Leslie Richards on Monday as she announced interim regulations for the industry.
“We believe that you need to know what are the rules here in Pennsylvania and what are we expecting,” she said. “What do we need in order to again to make sure that this technology matures in a way that helps everybody.”
At this point, however, the rules are voluntary—PennDOT can only urge companies to adhere to them. The Pennsylvania legislature must write the new regulations into law before they can be enforced; both the Pennsylvania House and Senate have bills to do so. In the meantime, Richards said she’s confident that the industry will work with PennDOT.
“The intent of these policies is to move this technology forward, the intent is not to slow it down or halt it, but to make sure that it moves forward in a very safe manner,” she said.
Richards said the interim regulations had been in the works before last month’s fatal crash in Tempe, Ariz. that involved an Uber vehicle in self-driving mode, but said public concern prompted Monday’s announcement.
“We want to be transparent,” she said. “We want to be sharing with the public how we are moving forward to give them the best opportunity to also gain confidence along with us as we move forward.”
As part of the interim regulations, companies that wish to test autonomous vehicles on Pennsylvania roads will be asked to provide PennDOT with basic information—company name, address, phone number and main point of contact—as well as proof of a driver or operator training program, certification that operators have passed that training, a list of vehicles expected to be involved in testing, the anticipated routes or geographic areas of testing and proof of insurance. In addition, companies must halt testing when its software or hardware is shared with any vehicle that is the subject of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation.
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