Who Will Regulate Autonomous Vehicles Best?

So it would be useful to have a look at the experience of Roger Cohen, senior advisor to the secretary of transportation for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, who Koopman described as “the best guy, leading the best autonomous car program of all the states.”

Pennsylvania’s first CAVs rolled out of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh more than a decade ago on the way to winning the DARPA autonomous driving challenge, which gave Cohen and company the sense of inevitability about the whole thing.

“You can’t actually do as much as you think to keep autonomous vehicles out of the city if you want to,” Cohen said. “So when it became clear the private sector was coming in, we designed model legislation to suggest to the general assembly to authorize full, automated vehicle testing at all levels, with PennDoT designated as the agency charged with oversight for safety. We thought it was a critical part of the legislation that we be given authority to oversee the process, and we were—but only through the mechanism of policy, not regulation.