Self-driving carsseem to be the future of transportation, but there's still a ways to go before the new technology becomes mainstream. Technology companies are doing what they can to speed up consumer adoption of autonomous vehicles.
You might think tech hubs like Silicon Valley or the Seattle area may be hotspots for self-driving cars. But, there's a more unlikely state where companies are testing the technology. Three tech companies are busy testing self-driving cars in
Allegheny County is a popular area for testing self-driving cars
Morning Callreported that Pennsylvania's Allegheny County is a hotspot for companies testing self-driving cars. Several tech firms are based in Pittsburgh, thanks to Carnegie Mellon University's decades of autonomous vehicle research.
Many of the firms are using Allegheny County and nearby communities as a testing ground for the developing technology. The companies are partnering with auto manufacturers around the world to develop the vehicles, which have been tested in the area for years.
PennDOT asks companies testing the technology to voluntarily register with the state, and share their safety protocols as well as testing updates. Six of the eight companies testing in Pennsylvania have registered with the state.
Three of the biggest companies testing autonomous vehicles
One of the biggest companies testing self-driving cars in Pennsylvania is probably NVIDIA. NVIDIA's claim to fame is in developing graphic processing units for computers. NVIDIA has partnered with Mercedes-Benz to develop autonomous vehicle technology and make it widely available in the automaker’s fleet by 2024.
Aurora Innovation is a giant in the autonomous vehicle space, and its financial backers include
Amazon. It has partnered with Toyota and Volvo to develop its self-driving cars. In December, Aurora acquired Uber Advance Technology Center to help ramp up its development.
Argo AI is a Pittsburgh-based company that is the most active highly autonomous vehicle (HAV) testing firm in Pennsylvania; its partner companies include Ford and Volkswagen.
Other companies testing HAVs
Other firms are testing HAVs in the state, though they're not as well-known or active as the three described above.
Carnegie Mellon itself is getting into the game. In 2019, they announced a $15 million partnership with Argo, a company led by a president who is a Carnegie Mellon alum. The university is taking things relatively slow, having tested vehicles for fewer than 2,000 miles in Allegheny County in 2020.
Locomation's focus is on creating partially autonomous truck convoys. This is where a human drives a tractor-trailer while followed by a driverless truck that’s wirelessly linked to the lead vehicle. Its vehicles drove fewer than 1,000 miles last year.
Silicon Valley-based Plus made news in 2019 by having an automated truck travel from California to Quakertown, PA, with the computer handling most of the interstate driving.
How has the HAV testing gone?
None of the companies testing HAVs in Pennsylvania have reported crashes involving their autonomous vehicles on public roads. The Pennsylvania State Police have no record of any such accidents occurring in the state.
The results so far may help wary consumers feel more confident in the
safety of HAVs, and the cars are likely to get even better and safer as the technology continues to develop. Self-driving cars may not be mainstream now, but they’re definitely up-and-coming.
Not everyone feels like self-driving cars are as safe as traditional vehicles. No matter which state you live in or what type of vehicle you drive, you’ll want to make sure you have the insurance coverage you need.
Jerrycan help you find cheap car insurance that suits your needs by comparing rates from 50 top companies.