Pittsburgh-based self-driving car developer Argo AI has announced the formation of a council that will oversee its autonomous vehicle safety.
The Argo Safety Advisory Council is made up of external experts who will advise the company on safety practices and building public trust in self-driving vehicles.
The move comes as Pennsylvania looks to make the state more attractive to autonomous vehicle companies. In June, the Pennsylvania House passed a bill that would allow self-driving cars to, well, self-drive — without a human present who could take over in an emergency situation.
The idea isn’t universally loved. Earlier in the year, a Pennsylvania Senate committee considered a similar law that never made it to the full Senate for voting.
Safety expert Philip Koopman, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, told the Post-Gazette in June that the newer bill approved by the House that month was “better” than the previous Senate version, but still did not offer the public enough protection.
Argo AI has undergone third-party assessments before. In December 2021, a report found Argo’s test driver procedures met, and sometimes exceeded, industry best practices as defined by the Autonomous Vehicle Safety Consortium and SAE International.
Pittsburgh-headquartered autonomous vehicle company Aurora has a similar advisory arm, also consisting of outside experts, to monitor safety practices.
Proponents of self-driving vehicles say that the technology behind them is sufficiently advanced that they’re safer than human-operated cars.
“At Argo, our foundational value is safety,” said Bryan Salesky, Argo AI founder and CEO, in a statement. “Autonomous vehicles have the potential to profoundly and positively impact transportation safety and accessibility in cities.”
The Argo Safety Advisory Council’s members include former medical officer and former chairman for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Mitchell Garber and Robert Sumwalt; former FBI assistant director Christopher “Todd” Doss; David Kelly, former acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and Annette Sandberg, former administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
An Argo AI self-driving car hasn’t been involved in an accident since 2018, when a truck T-boned one of the vehicles after running a red light.
Since then, the company has begun testing cars in Miami and Austin.
Noelle Mateer: [email protected]
First Published August 3, 2022, 6:00am