b'137Pittsburgh Washington, D.C.OF THEA Haphazard Triangle Getting Round the RoundaboutsNever mind its hardscrabble reputation. CivilityThe capital has some of the most complex rules the roads in the Steel City, as evidencedtraffic-control measures anywhere in the PITTSBURGH LEFT by residents famous Pittsburgh left, duringcountry. There are roundabouts. There are which oncoming traffic gives up the right-of- fi ve- and six-way intersections. Then, of way and politely lets left-turning vehicles turncourse, there are street closures when a against a green. Because an unexpectedlypresidential motorcade is breezing through deferential driver is just as challenging as antown. Operational performance manager unexpectedly aggressive one, the SDS trainsDoug Hutchinson calls it an infrastructure to anticipate both.nightmare. For this, Hutchinson credits But its the citys layout that provides theCharles LEnfant, the French-American military most complex proving ground. Built on a tri- engineer who designed most of the streets angle where three rivers converge, Pittsburghin the late 1700s. He took a rectangle and is a 58-square-mile obstacle course fi lledinstead of making a grid, he added triangles with steep and winding hills, narrow roads,and a bunch of circles in the middle of it. confusing merge points, bridges, tunnels,Today, its tough for everyone.and an abundance of two-way streets thatTough conditions, however, are precisely unexpectedly turn into one-ways. A lot ofwhat the SDS needs to improve. Hutchinson times, the traffic patterns arent readily appar- cites (1) ongoing construction, and (2) the ent unless you have contextual knowledge ofgeneral unpredictability of D.C.s traffic whats happening, fl eet operations managerfl ow, as two rich, real-world data-gathering Steve Swartz says. And the roadways? Onopportunities for Argo vehicles. One of his the map it looks like someone took a handfulfavorite testing grounds, the Starfi sh, is of spaghetti and drew roads where the piec- a fi ve-way intersection with a traffic circle es landed. and a major highway running through it. The The unconventional grid, frequent rainfall,second, dubbed Wendys Triangle, sports and topography also mean frequent construc- multiple exit and entry points, all surrounding tion, leading to detours and areas temporarilya Wendys restaurant. Argo test vehicles littered with heavy machinery. Swartz saysnavigate both intersections daily. Although the this, too, is an opportunity for the SDS tovehicles themselves havent been involved in learn, especially when there are constructionany incidents, their cameras have captured fl dozens of minor collisions. The SDS learnsaggers in the roadway directing traffic.from those interactions, too.AustinToo Many Users, Not EnoughPalo AltoLanes The Never-Ending PelotonThe fastest-growing city in Texas has seenThis Silicon Valley city is the home of Stanford a simultaneous explosion of people onUniversity, which means that during typical the street, from joggers and walkers toschool terms, its streets are teeming with bikes, scooters, and other forms of nonvehic-Miami Detroit bicyclists and dockless scooters. Much ofular traffic like the locally popular one-wheel this vulnerable road user traffic sticks to Embracing the ChaosWhere Snow Meets Steam designated lanes. But as fl eet operationsskateboard. Fleet operations manager Maxim manager Marlon Rivera notes, sometimes theX Gladnikov says its perfectly normal for In Miami, rogue behavior is the name of theIts only fi tting that Argo tests its vehicles inlanes arent wide enough to accommodateautonomous vehicles to wait several minutes game. Were talking about people who dothe cradle of the automotive industry. Buteveryoneor there arent designated laneswhile large groups of students cross an inter-just about everything theyre not supposedDetroit is like fi nishing school for an SDS. Firstat all. Instead of imposing your presence onsection. Thats okay, Gladnikov says. The test to do, says fl eet operations manager Santoare the wide boulevards and shared center- these various users, you have to give themvehicles are patient. Because human drivers Castronovo. Miami drivers famously treatturn lanes, essentially no-mans-lands in thespace, he says. tend to roll through stop signs (sometimes speed limits as suggestions. Same with redmiddle of intersections. Next is the notoriouslyOf course, it is also important not tocalled California stops), the vehicles also lights and stop signs. Pedestrians dart outcold and snowy weather, which can haveovercorrect; the Argo SDS is careful not tolearn to wait for oncoming vehicles to come to into the middle of traffic without warning.some unusual eff ects on the surroundingmove over too far when passing runnersa complete stop before proceeding. Motorcyclists split lanes. One day, testinfrastructure.moving against traffic on the shoulders ofAnd one more reason to love California: its specialists even spotted a large iguana inSteam clouds hover over downtownbusy roads. Similarly, test vehicles confi dentlyproximity to emerging and established talent. the middle of a busy street in South Beach.streets like ghosts when wintry air meets thebut cautiously maneuver around city busesHome to one of Argos largest teams of Castronovo tells test specialists their headsunderground boiler systems. Fleet operationsstopped to load and drop offpassengers.engineers, the Palo Alto facility houses a fl eet need to be on swivels 24 hours a day andmanager Matt Holstege, who says snowfallTony Warywoda, Argos director ofof vehicles that can be outfi tted with the latest always expect the unexpected.in the Great Lakes region far surpasses anyautonomous vehicle system operations, sayshardware and tested quickly. We get a lot of Unique learning opportunities also comedifficulty seen in D.C. or Pittsburgh, enjoys thescooters in particular are a huge presencelate requests where were strapping cameras from operating in a wide variety of weatherextra challenge. The way moisture hangs inin Austin, and that its not uncommon to seeand lidar onto stock vehicles in the middle of conditions. Heavy rainfall and humiditythe air, the SDS has to learn to determine ifbig piles of 20 or 30 of them on the side ofthe night, Gladnikov says. Its pretty fun to present unique challenges for an SDS,its a steam cloud or a cars exhaust, he says.the road. If the vehicle drove by that samewatch the team at work.with puddles creating their own refl ections,He says progress has improved light yearscorner one day earlier, and there werent oceanic salt spray drying on equipment,in the last year alone. any scooters there, it might have a tough and humidity fogging some sensor lenses.time deciphering what is there today when a Each real-world situation gives Argo newwhole bunch of them are piled up, Warywoda opportunities to learn, collect new data, andsays. From cases like this, the SDS is able to test the capabilities of the system. become more skilled at recognizing what the objects are and how to behave around them.FullBook_Mar24.indb 137 4/25/21 6:45 PM'