© 2022 90.5 WESA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Pittsburgh Aims For Federal Recognition As Self-Driving Car ‘Proving Ground’

Megan Harris
90.5 WESA


Pittsburgh leaders hope the city continues to grow as a testing ground for Uber’s self-driving cars and other companies, aiming for the federally-recognized status of "automated vehicle proving ground." 

The U.S Department of Transportation put out a call for states to apply for the designation in November. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation nominated Pittsburgh, State College and the Poconos Raceway in Long Pond.

“What we’re hoping that our application shows is that Pennsylvania offers a lot of facility options, different geographies and unique environments … for people who are testing these technologies,” PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has not said how many sites would be designated and there is no funding or other assistance earmarked for the program. However, Waters-Trasatt said such a designation would help Pennsylvania maintain its role as a leader in autonomous vehicle research.

"We're thrilled to be a partner with PennDOT on this application and continue our leadership as a laboratory for innovation that benefits all residents," said Mayor Bill Peduto in a written statement.

Final decisions are expected in the first quarter of the year. 

In the meantime, PennDOT continues to work with the state legislature on laws aimed at setting up autonomous vehicle testing regulations that ensure public safety while still allowing for experimentation and research.

special task force on autonomous vehicles recently released its recommended guidance to assist with testing policies.

“We’ve put in significant work on this issue with our task force, with our partners in the legislature, and through close collaboration with the industry,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said.

WESA will be surveying Pennsylvania candidates for federal and state office for the 2022 general election — tell us which issues are most important to you.