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Mayor Says City Has Safeguards In Place For Uber's Autonomous Vehicle Testing

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A fatal accident involving a driver-less car has sidelined Uber vehicles here in Pittsburgh and across the nation, and now Mayor Bill Peduto is weighing in on when they might be back on the local roads.

The Uber vehicle involved in the Arizona crash was in self-driving mode, but failed to stop when a pedestrian walked her bicycle across the highway.

In the wake of the fatal accident, Arizona's governor shut down on-street testing of autonomous cars in the state and Uber voluntary suspended their testing in Pittsburgh and other cities until an investigation is completed.

While Mayor Peduto acknowledged some concerns, he said the safety records of autonomous cars here in Pittsburgh is far biter than rest.

"Last week in western Pennsylvania, three people were killed, pedestrians were killed, by people driving cars," said Mayor Peduto.

Autonomous vehicles are regulated at the state level, and Mayor Peduto says he will be discussing them with Gov. Tom Wolf.

"The fact of the matter is, there are safeguards we have in place in Pittsburgh," said Mayor Peduto.

PennDOT released the following statement regarding the safeguards:

"Governor Tom Wolf's  administration's top priority is ensuring the safety of residents of the commonwealth. Uber's testing in Pittsburgh has been conducted under the existing Pennsylvania Vehicle Code which requires a human driver to be behind the wheel and responsible for control of the vehicle at all times. PennDOT has been clear that no testing of fully automated vehicles is permitted in Pennsylvania, unlike Arizona, where Governor Ducey recently authorized fully automated testing via Executive Order.

Governor Wolf has called for legislation to improve oversight of autonomous vehicle testing by defining the role entities such as PennDOT, the State Police and the Pennsylvania Turnpike play, and provide a governance structure for automated vehicle testing and deployment in the Commonwealth to enhance safety requirements and other issues. There is no requirement in Pennsylvania law for two operators in an autonomous vehicle."

While Uber is sidelined, one of its competitors, Argo AI, a billion-dollar Pittsburgh start up, continues its on-street testing of autonomous vehicles in the Strip District, and there are two other companies locally doing the same.

The mayor seems reluctant to put any more roadblocks in the way of this industry.

"We have been able to create over 1,500 jobs and $3 billion worth of investment in the City of Pittsburgh over five years, and that industry is only growing," said Mayor Peduto

When the Arizona investigation is complete, Uber's autonomous vehicles will return to the City of Pittsburgh streets, and the mayor believes you need not worry about your safety.

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