California to Allow Autonomous Delivery Vehicles on Public Roads

On December 17, California officially gave the green light for testing and deploying commercial light-duty autonomous delivery vehicles on the state’s public roads – with an approved permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

[Above photo via Caltrans.]

Under revised regulations by the state’s Office of Administrative Law, companies with a DMV permit can operate autonomous delivery vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds and the DMV can begin approving new applications in 30 days. Qualifying vehicles include autonomous passenger cars, mid-sized pickup trucks and cargo vans carrying goods such as pizza or groceries, DMV noted in a statement.

[One example of such self-driving delivery vehicles is the Nuro, launched last year.]

Currently, the agency said 65 companies have valid permits to test autonomous vehicles with a safety driver on California public roadways, with only one company having a permit for completely driverless testing.

Steve Gordon

“The adoption of these regulations means Californians soon could receive deliveries from an autonomous vehicle provided the company fulfills the requirements,” Steve Gordon, California’s DMV director, said. “As always, public safety is our primary focus.”

California’s requirements for deployment of light-duty autonomous commercial vehicles on public roads include; certifying the vehicle is equipped with an autonomous vehicle data recorder; that vehicle meets current industry standards to help defend against, detect and respond to cyber-attacks, unauthorized intrusions, or false vehicle control commands; and, the ability to display or transfer vehicle owner or operator information to law enforcement in the event of a collision.

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