Matzie: Automated vehicles discussed in Harrisburg.

HARRISBURG, March 21 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, and other members of the House Transportation Committee joined the Senate Transportation Committee today in hosting a public hearing on Highly Automated Vehicles Testing legislation.

Today's hearing focused on S.B. 427, which would allow the expansion of the testing of Highly Automated Vehicles on Pennsylvania's roads.

Currently, Carnegie Mellon University and Uber have received limited approval to test these vehicles.

"Western Pennsylvania can become a leading center for this emerging technology," Matzie said. "Between Uber's self-driving vehicles, which began testing on the Pittsburgh streets last September and the technological research centers developing around Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon, we are in a prime location to lead the way.

"Last September, I was able to take a test drive through the streets of Harrisburg in Carnegie Mellon's autonomous Cadillac. The ride was eye-opening and convinced me that self-driving vehicles are definitely part of our future. This bill can give us the opportunity to become an important part of that future."

Nine states currently allow testing of HAVs, including California, Florida, Michigan and Virginia.

Today's hearing included testimony from Dr. Raj Rajkumar, a professor in the Electric and Computer Engineering Department and Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, as well as representatives from different departments of PennDOT and Maj. Edward Hoke, Director of Patrol, Pennsylvania State Police.

An hour-long roundtable opened a dialog among car manufacturers, Uber, safety advocates and PennDOT.

Ben Husch, director of the Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee, National Conference of State Legislatures, presented an update on the national status of HAV testing. Samuel Marsh, president and CEO of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, presented a brief synopsis of potential insurance issues that could arise.