Autonomous Vehicles Don't Know How To Move In Construction Zones... Yet

Sep 27, 2019

On today's program: John Fetterman says time is now for recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania; PennDOT is preparing to test autonomous cars in highway construction zones; and a preview of how libraries and librarians have had to adapt to keep up with changing technologies and expectations.

Pennsylvania governor now supports legalizing marijuana 
(0:00 — 11:45) 

Gov. Tom Wolf's office is throwing its full support behind legalizing recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania. The announcement this week follows the completion of a four-month listening tour by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who asked for feedback on legalization from every county in the commonwealth.

Fetterman says 65 to 70 percent of the people who provided feedback support full legalization, and he believes opposition is now a minority view in Pennsylvania.

Republicans who control the state House and Senate have historically argued against full legalization.

PennDOT gets federal funding to test with CMU and PPG
(13:08 — 24:25) 

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation received an $8 million federal grant to test autonomous vehicles in construction zones. Mark Kopko, PennDOT’s director of transformational technology, says the four-year study will take appropriate precautions. 

“There’s always going to be a human driver behind the wheel," he says. "There will also be safety operator in the passenger seat and people monitoring, ready to take control at any moment."

Pennsylvania law requires a human driver be in control and able to intervene inside all automated vehicles. Unmanned and remote testing in traffic is still prohibited.

Kapko says research will be conducted in stages; they’ll begin on a closed track before moving onto limited access roads and, eventually, highways.

Everyone has expectations for libraries, so how do they decide what to be?
(24:27 — 29:15) 

Libraries have a long history of connecting the public to books and information, but they’ve had to adapt and evolve as people seek out new services and technology. In a special hour on Monday, 90.5 WESA's Sarah Schneider will look at the history of Pittsburgh libraries, how they’re trying to stay afloat in communities both big and small and the ways librarians are meeting the needs of their patrons.

The Confluence returns on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

90.5 WESA's Kristofer Stubbs contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.