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Here's What The City Discovered About Self-Driving Vehicle Testing In Pittsburgh

Megan Harris
90.5 WESA
Uber technicians wait in the shadow of the company's new Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016.

It’s no secret that for the past few years the highest concentration of self-driving vehicle testing occurred in the Strip District and Lawrenceville. But on Thursday, the city of Pittsburgh released a report noting more than 50 additional neighborhoods and surrounding communities where vehicles are tested.

The “Self-Driving Vehicle Testing in Pittsburgh Summary of Findings” is an initial report analyzing the testing programs of the five self-driving companies in the city. In March, Mayor Bill Peduto signed an executive order outlining objectives and expectations for autonomous vehicle testing, making Pittsburgh the first city to introduce these types of testing guidelines.

The report found that all self-driving vehicles in the city use sensors, cameras, GPS systems and software to detect the road, other vehicles and pedestrians. Cameras capture people and objects within 16 feet of the car. Software also allows for full 360-degree perception and real-time mapping to help the vehicle plan its route.

All cars operate with one driver and one “associate” and are designated Level 4 automation by the Society of Automotive Engineers. This means the driver can interrupt self-driving mode by using the accelerator pedal, brake, steering wheel or a “disengagement” button. Each company trains drivers on local traffic laws, self-driving equipment and to road awareness.

The summary also found that the five companies (Aptiv, Argo AI, Aurora, Carnegie Mellon and Uber) employ 1,300 people in the area. The companies each use different passenger cars, but all are identified with branding.

“The information provided by the five testers in the City provide us with critical insight into the scale, location and conditions of testing and safety protocols,” said Karina Ricks, director of the city Department of Mobility and Infrastructure. “This information is vital to a working partnership capable of advancing innovation while protecting the public.”