Aurora receives authorization to test autonomous vehicles in Pennsylvania

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Aurora has become the first self-driving company operating in Pennsylvania to receive authorization to test autonomous vehicles in the state.

Aurora says that this authorization is the culmination of its efforts to “meaningfully engage, constructively respond, and be a good partner” with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

“We voluntarily complied with PennDOT’s request because we believe this will help the communities in and around Pittsburgh to be aware of Aurora, our testing, our commitment to safety, and our vision for a self-driving future,”​ the company says in a blog post.

As part of its commitment to PennDOT, Aurora provides a variety of information to remain transparent, including where it is testing, the conditions under which it tests, the internal checks and safety measures that it uses in the testing, the vetting and training of its vehicle operators, and details about how its self-driving system works.

In addition to transparency and collaboration, Aurora says that its team, specifically its vehicle operators, are an important part of the company's commitment to prioritizing safety.

When Aurora’s vehicles are operating autonomously on public roads in Pittsburgh, the company makes sure that there is a vehicle operator in the driver seat and a co-pilot in the passenger seat. The company’s vehicle operators undergo plenty of training before they get behind the wheel.

“Our vehicle operators are full time employees (not independent contractors), thoroughly vetted, specially trained, and highly practiced on how to use our self-driving system,” Aurora says.

Each operator trains for 12 weeks in a rigorous training program that includes a defensive driving course and thorough coursework on how to safely operate Aurora’s self-driving system. After that training is complete, the team continues to undergo weekly, quarterly, and annual refresher trainings.

Ultimately for Aurora, this authorization is just the beginning of what it has planned in the Commonwealth.

“We are committed to continuing our collaboration and strengthening our partnership with PennDOT as well as other local, state, and federal officials,” Aurora says.

“Together with the oversight and care expected from the government and its citizens, we will bring self-driving technology to market safely, quickly, and broadly.”

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