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PennDOT earns national recognition in the realm of highly automated vehicles

November 03, 2020 12:00 PM
By: Jan Huzvar

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​If you are like many Pennsylvanians, you probably have an awareness of automated vehicles; whether it be through unfortunate events such as the driver who was recorded sleeping behind the wheel of his Tesla, or by way of your own experience with vehicle automation though lane assist or automatic breaking.

What you may not be aware of is just how pivotal PennDOT has been in developing the framework for the safe testing and deployment of highly automated vehicles (HAVs).

At the center of the department's efforts is the development of testing guidance for automated vehicle stakeholders. Following discussions and meetings with the state's Autonomous Vehicle Policy Task Force and more than a dozen automated vehicle technology companies, PennDOT issued updates to its guidance (PDF) to enhance safety oversight of HAVs in Pennsylvania. This months-long effort included several rounds of internal and external reviews, and roughly 40 hours of discussions with the testers. The changes reflect advances in the industry and best practices.

PennDOT was tapped by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to join nine companies and seven other states as the first participants in a new web pilot of the U.S. DOT's initiative to improve the safety and testing transparency of automated driving systems: the Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing (AV TEST) Initiative. The states included are California, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah. The participating companies are Beep, Cruise, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Local Motors, Navya, Nuro, Toyota, Uber, and Waymo.

In addition to joining the national AV TEST initiative, PennDOT was asked to join the Partners for Automated Vehicle Education's (PAVEPublic Sector Advisory Council, a group of public sector organizations that will assist with PAVE's campaign to educate consumers about automated vehicles and their societal impacts.

Pennsylvania's Highly Automated Vehicle Advisory Committee recently published its first annual report available on PennDOT's Highly Automated Vehicle Advisory Committee webpage under "Resources."

The updated guidance and other information on automated and connected vehicles in Pennsylvania is available at

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