PennDOT prepares for advent of autonomous vehicles
PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch predicts that his twins, 18 months old, might never drive cars, at least not in the way we do now.
“They will likely program their car to transport them autonomously to their destination,” said Schoch, 52. “And like any parent, if that vehicle can't speed, can't run off the road and can't run into another vehicle, I will rest much easier at night knowing that they are safer because of this technology.”
Fully autonomous vehicles can run on their own with the help of computers, sensors and other technology, though a person can take control at any time. Many vehicles have semi-autonomous features, such as collision avoidance systems that automatically apply brakes before an object is struck.
To help PennDOT prepare for the day when autonomous vehicles are the norm, Schoch recruited Carnegie Mellon University.
PennDOT and CMU will look at how to regulate self-driving vehicles and how they might affect policy decisions in a study expected to get under way in about a month and to take a year to complete, said Allen D. Biehler, a former PennDOT secretary who is now a distinguished professor of transportation systems and policy at CMU.
Biehler said agencies such as PennDOT are asking what the emergence of autonomous vehicles means in terms of their operation and investment decisions.
“Because autonomous vehicles will be able to travel more closely together, maybe six-lane roads with 14-foot-wide lanes and 30-foot medians are no longer needed,” he said.
The scope of the PennDOT study is still being finalized, Biehler said, and it is not yet known how much it will cost.
CMU is a leader in autonomous vehicle research. Five years ago, a fully autonomous sport utility vehicle the university developed with General Motors won a 60-mile road race sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The SUV, called “Boss,” maneuvered around the course at an average speed of 14 mph without any human intervention, en route to a $2 million prize.
“This is for real. The question isn't whether this is going to happen; it's when,” Biehler said, predicting autonomous vehicles will be the norm in 20 to 25 years.
Google is developing a fleet of automated vehicles, and most auto manufacturers are moving in that direction. Three states — Nevada, Florida and California — have authorized testing of automated cars on their roads, and legislation has been proposed in several other states and the District of Columbia.
The Associated Press contributedto this report. Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 12-year-old’s donated heart joins families, lets her memory live
- Pittsburgh police officers start wearing video cameras
- Proposal to limit access divides Penn Hills, Homewood neighborhoods
- Former Rollier’s store to become art gallery, cafe
- Foundation donates $350K to revitalize facades in Downtown Pittsburgh
- Executive order tightens security to combat identity fraud
- City suspending trash collection Tuesday to honor slain worker
- Allegheny County Council members outspend expense accounts
- Rules hamper Franklin Regional attack victim scholarships
- Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group volunteers cut trail in South Park
- Pittsburgh VA director gets more time to appeal firing recommendation