A new Pennsylvania law is touted as modernizing the state’s vehicle code to accommodate autonomous vehicles.
Gov. Tom Wolf has signed into law a bill to permit the driverless testing and deployment of autonomous cars and trucks on Pennsylvania roadways.
Pennsylvania law has prohibited vehicle operation on state roadways without a human driver behind the wheel inside the vehicle.
Legalizes, regulates driverless vehicles
Previously HB2398, the new law permits platooning with a driver in the lead vehicle. One nonlead vehicle is permitted to operate with an automated driving system engaged.
A plan for general platoon operations must be filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for review before heading onto the highway.
Additionally, the new law details procedures following any traffic incidents that involve autonomous vehicle operation. Proof of insurance coverage equal to at least $1 million is required.
As the autonomous vehicles rule change made its way through the statehouse there was some concern voiced about how it would affect workers.
Senate Transportation Committee Minority Chair Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna, told the transportation panel that he acknowledges that autonomous vehicles represent “the way of the future and the way things are moving whether we like it or not” but that he opposes the rule change due to concern about how it will affect the state’s labor industry.
“This bill does not guarantee Pennsylvania workers a seat at the table,” Flynn said.
Supply chain boost touted
Rep. Donna Oberlander, R-Clarion, said the new rule will help the state “regain its position at the forefront of highly autonomous vehicle testing.”
“For years, the (highly autonomous vehicle) industry has had a healthy and encouraging presence in Pennsylvania – due in many ways to the institutions of higher learning specifically those with great robotics and engineering programs,” Oberlander said in recent remarks.
She added that changes were needed in Pennsylvania because in recent years nearly half of all states have expanded their rules to allow for further deployment in the autonomous vehicle industry. As a result, the Keystone State was no longer on “the cutting edge.”
Additionally, she has said the industry would help address the current supply chain issues to deliver food, medicine, and building supplies. LL
More Land Line coverage of news from Pennsylvania is available.