Could the ‘Pittsburgh left’ help Argo AI win the self-driving car race?

Different cities, different laws, different customs, different traffic patterns. The kaleidoscopic diversity on city streets across the U.S. and around the world is one reason self-driving cars are not quite yet ready for prime time. The real world is a complicated place for human drivers to find their way around. Robot cars are just getting started.

Yet the driverless technology company Argo AI thinks it’s on the verge of solving the complicated problem well enough to safely introduce a robotaxi service next year. To that end, it’s testing and training its sensors and software in seven different cities all at once, with an intense focus on well-mapped areas it calls “geonets.”..

Take Pittsburgh, which is known for the “Pittsburgh left.” That’s a maneuver wherein the driver of the first car in line at a stoplight signals to turn left. When the light turns green, the driver veers left immediately — making the turn before oncoming traffic goes straight.