PennDOT outlines plan for increased safety of Highly Automated Vehicles

On Monday, April 9, 2018, Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation Secretary Richards outlined the voluntary testing policy at the Automated Vehicle Summit in Pittsburgh.

PennDOT plans to take these steps over the next 60-90 days:

  • Richards will convene a meeting of the testers regarding the interim policies.
  • The Autonomous Vehicle Policy Task Force will be reconvened to update testing policy recommendations.
  • Until enactment of legislation sought by the administration, PennDOT will ask all testers to comply with the following testing policy. Testers would submit a “Notice of Testing” to PennDOT, with:
    • Basic Information: Name of the company, address, phone number, e-mail; identify principal point of contact for the testing;
    • Verification attesting that the HAVs meet all federal and state safety standards and meet the policies adopted by PennDOT;
    • Proof of a driver/operator training program. (PennDOT strongly recommends clean driving records for HAV operators);
    • Certification that all drivers have met/passed program requirements;
    • Name of approved “drivers”, with valid DL numbers;
    • List of vehicles that will be involved in the testing and their VIN and/or Plate number;
    • Routes or geographic location for testing;
    • Basic overview of Operational Design Domain (ODD) including constraints. The ODD describes the specific conditions under which a given HAV is intended to operate, including where (such as what roadway types and speeds) and when (under what conditions, such as day/night, weather limits, etc.);
    • Proof of insurance; and
    • Immediately halt testing of any HAV that knowingly shares hardware or software with a vehicle that is part of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation.

Compliance with these policies will be voluntary, and will qualify the tester to receive an “Authorization Letter” from PennDOT, which is valid for a one year and require yearly renewals.

Additionally, PennDOT urges the Automated Vehicle industry and testers to:

  • Voluntarily agree to comply with PennDOT interim testing policies and complete Notice to Testing Certification.
  • Attend the meeting with the PennDOT Secretary.
  • Continue and foster open lines of communication with PennDOT.
  • Coordinate with PennDOT on developing best practices for operating HAVs within safety critical locations such as signalized intersections and work zones.
  • Put greater emphasis on developing and deploying vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, and vehicle-to-device connectivity.
  • Establish and fund an independent technical review body to promulgate best practices and pledge adherence to its recommendations.

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