This new law permitting driverless vehicles on public roads is a big win for the autonomous vehicle industry in Pittsburgh and a necessary step towards commercializing this tech and remaining competitive. Pennsylvania joins over a dozen states that permit similar testing arrangements, as reported by Pittsburgh Inno. There’ve been a number of recent stories involving the Pittsburgh autonomy sector, and RIDC President Don Smith has been quoted in many of them.
“The drivers jobs, the technician jobs, the depot operators, the service jobs that go with the testing operations were being created in other states. And so companies that are here in Pittsburgh are nonetheless testing in Ohio, or Indiana, or Arizona, or Florida. Not because they wanted to, but because they had to. I hope they’re able to grow their presence here in Pittsburgh faster and broader and deeper, which is going to mean more jobs and more tax revenue for the municipalities and the Commonwealth, as well as strengthening the regional operations of these companies.”
“I don’t think in any way this signals that we should give up on autonomous vehicles or that the future for them isn’t bright. You have entrants that come in and entrants that go out, and there’s a lot of change and turmoil, especially in the early days of technology. One of the things that Argo did that was great is they brought a ton of really talented people to our region. And I fully expect that that talent base will be absorbed into other companies in the sector and related ones and will continue to grow the cluster [in the Pittsburgh area].”
“There’s a strong demand for test track space, and I’m pretty confident we will be able to back-fill this facility with another company.”
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“I think that the lesson here is not, ‘let’s avoid tech.’ The lesson is ‘we need to do more to strengthen and grow and embed our tech companies in our region to better prepare them to compete. I think there’s a little bit of a wake-up call, but the alarm is not ‘oh, man, tech is dead here.’ It’s that we need to really focus on our business climate and supporting our growing companies and deepening our talent pool so that we can sustain these little ebbs and flows in whatever market it is, whether it’s manufacturing, whether it’s health care, whether it’s life sciences or whether it’s robotics and autonomy.”