Knight Foundation commits $5.25 million toward self-driving car projects |

Knight Foundation commits $5.25 million toward self-driving car projects

Uber’s self-driving car fleet on display in front of its Lawrenceville headquarters.

Pittsburgh will share $5.25 million from the Knight Foundation with four other cities for self-driving car projects.

The John S. And James L. Knight Foundation announced the five-year initiative Tuesday.

The money will fund projects in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Miami and Long Beach and San Jose, Calif.

Pittsburgh was selected because it was the first American city to allow self-driving Ubers on its streets, the foundation said.

“We want to work with city leaders to ensure those changes respond to residents — instead of putting residents at the whims of technology,” Sam Gill, Knight Foundation vice president for communities and impact and senior adviser to the president, said in the statement. “Further, by involving residents on the front end, cities can facilitate a smoother rollout of new technologies and programs on the back end.”

The funding aims to bring residents into the current conversations about self-driving cars and the future of transportation and cities. The Pittsburgh project will look for ways self-driving cars can reduce the number of vehicles on the road with only one person in them.

“Autonomous vehicles are one of the most disruptive technologies of our time, holding significant implications for the way we move, work and interact within communities,” Lilian Coral, Knight Foundation director for national strategy and technology innovation, said in a statement announcing the funding . “Important conversations are happening among government and industry on what these changes mean for the future, but residents have largely been left from the table. Without their input, we risk designing cities for new kinds of cars, rather than for people.”

The city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure is involved in the effort, said Tim McNulty, a spokesman for Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. McNulty said specifics haven’t been fully worked out, but the project will generally support community engagement and planning on self-driving car initiatives.

Detroit will address getting people to and from bus stops. Long Beach will look at using electric and human-powered transportation options like bikes and scooters for short trips. Miami will develop autonomous shuttles. San Jose will look for ways to use self-driving cars along side other forms of transportation.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Aaron at 412-336-8448, [email protected] or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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