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article imageCalifornia sets regulations for testing light driverless trucks

By Ken Hanly     Apr 14, 2019 in Technology
Sacramento - California would allow testing of light-duty autonomous trucks on public roads under a rule announced last Friday. The California Department of Motor Vehicles outlines a permitting process for any companies wanting to test or deploy driverless trucks.
Only certain lighter trucks would be eligible
The regulations governing autonomous vehicles in California can be found here. The announcement of the proposed regulationssays in part the following: "The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) released proposed regulations today that establish a path for companies to test or deploy light-duty autonomous motor trucks (delivery vehicles) on the state’s public roads. The release of these regulations marks the start of a 45-day public comment period, which ends May 27, 2019.Under the proposed regulations, companies can test autonomous delivery vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds with an approved permit from the DMV – provided they do not charge a delivery fee. Companies must apply for a deployment (public use) permit to make their autonomous technology commercially available. The DMV’s regulations continue to exclude the testing or deployment of autonomous vehicles weighing more than 10,001 pounds."
The regulations cover only Class 1 and 2 trucks which would include minivans, pickup trucks utility vans and step vans. However, autonomous vehicles in Class 3 through 8 are not allowed to test or deploy under the regulations. These would include walk-in delivery vans, semi-trucks, buses, or heavy-duty construction trucks.
California allows considerable autonomous vehicle testing
Since California has many autonomous vehicle testing programs, big companies such as General Motors, Waymo, and Uber, who are all in the process of development of autonomous vehicles, closely monitor any proposed new rules. California at present has 62 companies and 678 vehicles licensed through the DMV. However, Waymo is the only company so far that has a permit that allows it to test fully autonomous cars with no driver on public roads.
The new rules may be a step towards allowing vehicles such as heavy duty semi trucks (Class 8) to be tested on public roads. At present, Waymo is carrying out such tests in Atlanta Georgia. Other companies are also working on fully autonomous trucks such as Daimler, and TuSimple. Ford, Nuro, and Udeiv which are already permitted to test driverless vehicles under the DMV program will now be able to test light trucks as well.
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