Stories by Phil Koopman

Expert Voices

Amid AV safety concerns, regulators focus on humans behind the wheel

Self-driving Uber on the street in Pittsburgh
An Uber driverless Ford Fusion in Pittsburgh. Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

After a nationwide pause following a pedestrian fatality in Tempe, Arizona, this March, Uber’s self-driving cars are now back on the streets of Pittsburgh, under updated guidelines from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

The big picture: Autonomy failures should be seen as normal and expected events when on-road testing is used to flush out bugs. Regulations that require human test drivers to be trained, alert and able to take over when necessary — especially given the human tendency to lose focus during monotonous road tests — will help avert accidents and strengthen public trust.