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Peduto to lay out 'road map' for cities to benefit from self-driving tech

Aaron Aupperlee
| Thursday, May 25, 2017, 6:15 p.m.
In this Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, file photo, a self-driving Uber car stops at a red light on Liberty Avenue through the Bloomfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh. (AP Photo)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, file photo, a self-driving Uber car stops at a red light on Liberty Avenue through the Bloomfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh. (AP Photo)

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto next month plans to detail what he calls a road map to help cities benefit from self-driving technologies being developed by Uber and other companies.

“There are the general rules of engagement,” Peduto said Thursday. “Autonomous vehicles will reshape cities. What should cities be doing to make sure it benefits society?”

He said the announcement will form the basis for the memorandum of understanding that he has said he will ask Uber to sign, imploring the company to treat its employees better and to be help the city contend with traffic and infrastructure challenges.

Uber began testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh a year ago.

RELATED: One year after they hit the road in Pittsburgh, challenges remain for Uber self-driving cars

Peduto will make the announcement June 14 with the American Architectural Foundation at The National Press Club in Washington.

Peduto said Uber has been invited to participate. An Uber spokesman said the company has not decided if it will attend.

Pittsburgh and the American Architectural Foundation hosted the National Summit on Design and Urban Mobility this month to discuss what is at stake for cities as self-driving car technology progresses.

“We know that there will be this disruption, and we know now that it's going to be much faster than we thought, so what do we put in place to make sure that it benefits people, that it benefits mobility and accessibility for all, and how do we make it so it enhances cities in the long run,” Peduto said.

The mayor and foundation representatives plan to discuss the summit's final report, said Matthew Despard, a foundation spokesman.

Peduto has said he is disappointed with the relationship between Uber and the city. He has said the company has not been a good partner to the city and that the company should treat its drivers like employees, giving them a W-2 tax form instead of a 1099 form and offering benefits.

He wants Uber to commit to using low-emission vehicles and has asked the company to contribute to public infrastructure projects.

Peduto has acknowledged he can't force Uber to sign the memorandum or impose regulations or levy fines against the company if it refuses.

The announcement in June will not be a list of demands for tech companies and auto manufacturers pursuing self-driving cars, he said.

“What it will be is looking for good corporate partners to be able to not only have a corporate plan for profit but also a civic plan for how this change will benefit all cities,” Peduto said.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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