Pennsylvania pulls a California and allows statewide self-driving car tests

Pennsylvania is opening its roads to self-driving cars.

The state authorized its first self-driving car company to test on state roads this week — and no, it wasn’t Uber who received the honors.

Instead Aurora, the company working with China’s Byton vehicles, clinched the first authorization with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Earlier this year the autonomous vehicle software maker raised $8.4 million.

The transportation department had already issued its “automated vehicle testing guidance” back in July and several companies already testing in Pittsburgh said it would work within the rules that went into effect Aug. 1.

Back then, Aurora said it would apply for the statewide testing program. Now it’s the first company approved to test driverless cars beyond Pittsburgh. 

Aurora said in a blog post, “Safety is at the forefront of everything we do.” It will keep PennDOT informed about where in the state it’s testing, how it’s testing, and all about its operator safety procedures. For example, Aurora said it will always have a driver and a co-pilot in the vehicle and put operators through 12 weeks of “rigorous training.”

Uber’s self-driving car program was the darling of the Pittsburgh robotic driving scene, but after its fatal crash in Arizona in March the program stalled out. Now it’s back in Pittsburgh but in a much more limited capacity and has clearly taken a back seat when it comes to self-driving cars throughout the state. 

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