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PennDOT unveils multi-step action plan for highly automated vehicles

ABR Staff Writer Published 10 April 2018

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has outlined policy action plan for increased safety oversight of highly automated vehicles.

The department plans to reconvene the Automated Vehicle Policy Task Force, which was created in June 2016, to update testing policy recommendations.

PennDOT secretary Leslie Richards outlined the voluntary testing policy at the first day of a two-day Automated Vehicle Summit in Pittsburgh.

Richards said: "Given public concerns about safety on Pennsylvania roadways, we must implement interim oversight policies while we await legislative action on our request for permanent authorization.”

Until the legislation is enacted, PennDOT will ask all testers to comply with the testing policy.

Vehicle testers must submit a Notice of Testing to the department with the basic information such as name of the company, address, phone number, e-mail; identify principal point of contact for the testing.

The notice must include an attested verification that the self-driving vehicles meet all federal and state safety standards and meet the policies adopted by PennDOT.

The department said it strongly recommends clean driving records for the operators of the vehicles and they must have met or passed all the certification program requirements.

Testers must submt, the name of the approved ‘drivers’ with their valid driving license numbers.

The list of vehicles that are involved in the testing and their VIN and/ or plate numbers must be submitted. The routes or geographical location for testing the vehicles must also be mentioned in the notice.

Basic overview of Operational Design Domain (ODD) including constraints must be submitted. The ODD will describe the specific conditions under which a given vehicle is intended to operate, must be submitted.

A proof of insurance must also be attached to the notice of testing.

The department also stated that the tester must immediately stop the testing of any vehicle that shares hardware or software with a vehicle that is part of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation.

PennDOT has also urged the industry and testers to comply with its interim testing policies and complete notice to testing certification. Coordinate with the department on the development of best practices for operating self-driving vehicles within safety critical locations including signalized intersections and work zones.

The department has also emphasized on the development of vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, and vehicle-to-device connectivity.

Richards said: "HAVs hold much promise for enhanced mobility and economic prosperity, but much work remains to be done before the technology matures to the point where widespread use will be accepted.

“Pennsylvania welcomes the continued testing of HAVs, but wants to do so in a way to ensure safety is not compromised."

Image: PennDOT urges testers to comply with its interim rules for testing self-driving vehicles. Photo: Courtesy of Igor Kasalovic/FreeImages.com.