Penn. offers testing recommendations for Highly Automated Vehicles

Updated Dec 14, 2016
Like the Model S and Model X, Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 will pack autonomous technology.Like the Model S and Model X, Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 will pack autonomous technology.

The Pennsylvania Autonomous Vehicles Testing Policy Task Force has developed guidance for creating policies for overseeing testing of highly automated vehicles (HAV).

The goal of the task force was to create a “framework for testing HAVs in Pennsylvania that balances public safety with innovation and provides for the flexibility required to keep the state in the forefront of the development of this emerging and potentially transformative technology.”

The group delivered its guidelines to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Leslie S. Richards and has opened them to public comment through Jan. 12.

“Autonomous and connected vehicles will change transportation and could bring benefits of safer travel and greater ease of mobility for all if rules are in place to ensure passenger and pedestrian safety,” Richards says. “This guidance shows Pennsylvania’s understanding of public concerns and our commitment to being a leader in the research and testing of these technologies in ways that are both safe and innovative.

The recommendations include the following points:

  • Testers of highly automated vehicles (HAVs) must submit testing proposals to PennDOT and enter contracts attesting that the vehicles meet all federal and state safety standards and meet the policies adopted by PennDOT.
  • PennDOT has to be notified prior to any HAV being used without an operator in fully self-driving mode.
  • PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission may temporarily restrict HAVs from certain routes. Otherwise, HAVs may be tested on any road in the state. Municipalities can also ask PennDOT to temporarily restrict HAVs on local routes.
  • Platooning of HAVs will be restricted to two commercial or three passenger vehicles. However, testers can ask to use more HAVs in platooning, but PennDOT can ask for a safety demonstration first.
  • The HAVs must be able to record data that can be used to investigate crashes involving the HAVs. PennDOT will have access to the data.
  • Testers must certify that cybersecurity protections are in place for the HAVs.
  • PennDOT will collect data on total miles operated by HAVs, total number of hours of operation, and size of HAV fleets. PennDOT may also ask for other information such as counties where HAVs are being tested and percentage of testing done on limited access highways.

More details are available on the departments website at