New California autonomous vehicle regulations released this week by the Department of Motor Vehicles will allow driverless testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads in California using a remote test operator. According to the regulations, a remote test operator must actively monitor the vehicle’s operations and be able to take over immediate physical control if the situation requires. Previous regulations required a test driver in the autonomous vehicle that could take over when the self-driving technology failed.
The regulations present a series of requirements to be met by a manufacturer before it can conduct testing of autonomous vehicles capable of operating without the presence of a driver inside the vehicle on public roads in California. Key aspects of these requirements are briefly summarized below. The manufacturer:
- Certifies that the local authorities where the vehicle will be tested have been provided a written notification of the test plan and contact information.
- Certifies that the autonomous test vehicle complies with all of the following: There is a communication link between the vehicle and the remote operator to provide information on the vehicle’s location and status and allow two-way communication between the remote operator and any passengers if the vehicle experiences any failures that would endanger the safety of the vehicle’s passengers or other road users, or otherwise prevent the vehicle from functioning as intended, while operating without a driver. The manufacturer will continuously monitor the status of the vehicle and the two-way communication link while the autonomous test vehicle is being operated without a driver.
- There is a process to display or communicate vehicle owner or operator information should the vehicle be involved in a collision or if there is a need to provide that information to a law enforcement officer for any reason.
- The subject autonomous vehicles comply with all required federal safety standards and state vehicle codes.
- Certifies that the autonomous vehicles are capable of operating without the presence of a driver inside the vehicle and that the autonomous technology meets the description of a level 4 or level 5 automated driving system under SAE International’s Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems for On-Road Motor Vehicles, standard J3016 (SEP2016).
- Informs the department of the intended operational design domains of the autonomous vehicle.
- Provides a copy of a law enforcement interaction plan, which includes information that the manufacturer will make available to the law enforcement agencies and other first responders in the vicinity of the operational design domains of the autonomous vehicles that will instruct those agencies on how to interact with the vehicle in emergency and traffic enforcement situations.
- Shall maintain a training program for its remote operators and certify that each remote operator has completed training sufficient to enable him or her to safely execute the duties of a remote operator and possesses the proper class of license for the type of test vehicle being operated.
- That publicly disclosed an assessment demonstrating its approaches to achieving safety shall provide the department with a copy of that assessment.
- Shall disclose to any passenger in the vehicle that is not an employee, contractor, or designee of the manufacturer what personal information, if any, that may be collected about the passenger and how it will be used.
- Shall submit revised paperwork before implementing changes to make the vehicle capable of operation at a SAE International level that is different than and/or in addition to the level in the approved permit; make the vehicle capable of operation on a roadway type that is different than and/or in addition to those in the approved permit; increase the maximum speed of the vehicle by more than 15 miles per hour; or make the vehicle capable of operation in geographic areas different than and/or in addition to those in the approved permit.
To see the full regulation, go to https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/vr/autonomous/auto. The new regulations also state the requirements to apply for a permit for post-testing deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads.