Self-driving cars

When Ken Rosenberg thinks about self-driving cars, a particular incident comes to mind.

"One of the autonomous vehicles stopped in the middle of the road. There was a chicken running around the street, and the car didn't know what to do. But it wasn't just the chicken, a woman in a wheelchair was chasing the chicken. The car just basically shut down."

Rosenberg is vice mayor of Mountain View, California, where Google is headquartered. He was in the audience at the annual City Summit of the National League of Cities, held this year in Pittsburgh.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

 

Municipal officials from around the country grappled with changes in transportation, such as self-driving cars and rail safety, while meeting in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

This week, Pittsburgh is hosting 3,000 mayors and council members from around the country, as well as local leaders, for the National League of Cities' annual City Summit. They’ll meet through Saturday to discuss the challenges currently facing cities and share best practices for energy efficiency, working with startups and increasing transparency.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

The state agency that regulates taxicabs and transportation businesses in Pennsylvania says it doesn't have jurisdiction over free trips in self-driving cars being offered by Uber, but it will once the company starts charging. 

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

As companies like Uber and Google work to make self-driving cars, a local company is working on another autonomous vehicle: forklifts.

Engineers and designers at Seegrid have spent the last decade perfecting technology that allows automated forklifts to travel through warehouses and move heavy product without a human behind the wheel. The machines roll about like robots, making noises that sound like beeps, bells and sirens as a means of communicating with one another and employees.

Self-Driving Cars Are Coming, But They’re Not Ready For Pittsburgh Yet

Mar 4, 2016
Anita DuFalla / PublicSource

Ninety percent of car crashes are preventable.

As it stands, about 30,000 people die in car crashes every year in the United States, said Mark Kopko of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation [PennDOT]. “If you could reduce that by 90 percent, that’s huge.”

Autonomous cars have the capacity to do that.

In Allegheny County, that could mean a vast reduction in the roughly 12,000 crashes in 2014 — especially of those attributed to driver error, like drunk or distracted driving and speeding.

The technology might be 30-years-old, but self-driving cars are still in their infancy, according to Carnegie Mellon University Professor Raj Rajkumar.

CMU’s College of Engineering last week threw a birthday bash for the self-driving car, which was “born” on campus in 1984.

“It was a moment to enjoy,” Rajkumar said.

CMU Researchers Unveil Self-Driving Cadillac

Sep 4, 2013
Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Carnegie Mellon University introduced its 13th generation of driverless vehicle on Wednesday at Pittsburgh International Airport.

The specially outfitted Cadillac SRX drove itself — with U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch and CMU researchers in tow — from Cranberry Township to the airport.

Raj Rajkumar directs CMU’s University Transportation Center and co-directs the CMU-General Motors Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab. He calls this latest effort the “holy grail” of autonomous driving.