Preserving public safety, Californians could soon receive deliveries from an autonomous vehicle thanks to new legislation
California has just passed new legislation that will allow “the testing and commercial use of autonomous light-duty delivery vehicles on state public highways”, which opens the way for the introduction of home delivery by an autonomous car without a human driver from January 2020.
According to this regulation, a specific request must be sent depending on the type of vehicle (autonomous passenger cars, medium trucks and cargo vans) and, depending on the permit, companies may perform that test delivery service completely autonomously or with someone who acts as a safety driver to supervise the procedure.
“The adoption of these regulations means that Californians could soon receive deliveries from an autonomous vehicle as long as the company meets the requirements,” said Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Steve Gordon in a statement. “As always, public safety is our main objective“.
With or without a safety driver
In the case of safety drivers, they need to complete a training program, have no history of traffic offences and demonstrate that they are capable of assuming manual control of the car. Meanwhile, a vehicle without a safety driver must meet more stringent requirements, such as demonstrating its ability to drive autonomously at levels 4 (cars will be able to make the driver dispensable almost entirely, although they will have the possibility of a driver human take control) or 5 (full autonomy of the car, without the presence of a human driver).
At the same time, approved vehicles must demonstrate “a communication link between the vehicle and a remote operator and the ability to display or transfer information from the owner or operator of the vehicle in the event of a collision,” according to DMV.
Currently, 65 companies, including Bosch, Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla, Toyota or Volkswagen, have valid permits to test cars with a safety driver on California public roads, while that Waymo from Google, is the only company that has permission for the driverless test.
No to trucks
For now, cars weighing more than 4,500 kilos are excluded from the regulation, so that autonomous trucks, destined for the shipment of large goods, cannot be tested or used, although vans and light commercial vehicles can.