Code Section Group

Vehicle Code - VEH


DIVISION 16.6. Autonomous Vehicles [38750 - 38755]
  ( Division 16.6 added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 570, Sec. 2. )

38750.
  

(a) For purposes of this division, the following definitions apply:

(1) “Autonomous technology” means technology that has the capability to drive a vehicle without the active physical control or monitoring by a human operator.

(2) (A) “Autonomous vehicle” means any vehicle equipped with autonomous technology that has been integrated into that vehicle.

(B) An autonomous vehicle does not include a vehicle that is equipped with one or more collision avoidance systems, including, but not limited to, electronic blind spot assistance, automated emergency braking systems, park assist, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, traffic jam and queuing assist, or other similar systems that enhance safety or provide driver assistance, but are not capable, collectively or singularly, of driving the vehicle without the active control or monitoring of a human operator.

(3) “Department” means the Department of Motor Vehicles.

(4) An “operator” of an autonomous vehicle is the person who is seated in the driver’s seat, or, if there is no person in the driver’s seat, causes the autonomous technology to engage.

(5) A “manufacturer” of autonomous technology is the person as defined in Section 470 that originally manufactures a vehicle and equips autonomous technology on the originally completed vehicle or, in the case of a vehicle not originally equipped with autonomous technology by the vehicle manufacturer, the person that modifies the vehicle by installing autonomous technology to convert it to an autonomous vehicle after the vehicle was originally manufactured.

(b) An autonomous vehicle may be operated on public roads for testing purposes by a driver who possesses the proper class of license for the type of vehicle being operated if all of the following requirements are met:

(1) The autonomous vehicle is being operated on roads in this state solely by employees, contractors, or other persons designated by the manufacturer of the autonomous technology.

(2) The driver shall be seated in the driver’s seat, monitoring the safe operation of the autonomous vehicle, and capable of taking over immediate manual control of the autonomous vehicle in the event of an autonomous technology failure or other emergency.

(3) Prior to the start of testing in this state, the manufacturer performing the testing shall obtain an instrument of insurance, surety bond, or proof of self-insurance in the amount of five million dollars ($5,000,000), and shall provide evidence of the insurance, surety bond, or self-insurance to the department in the form and manner required by the department pursuant to the regulations adopted pursuant to subdivision (d).

(c) Except as provided in subdivision (b), an autonomous vehicle shall not be operated on public roads until the manufacturer submits an application to the department, and that application is approved by the department pursuant to the regulations adopted pursuant to subdivision (d). The application shall contain, at a minimum, all of the following certifications:

(1) A certification by the manufacturer that the autonomous technology satisfies all of the following requirements:

(A) The autonomous vehicle has a mechanism to engage and disengage the autonomous technology that is easily accessible to the operator.

(B) The autonomous vehicle has a visual indicator inside the cabin to indicate when the autonomous technology is engaged.

(C) The autonomous vehicle has a system to safely alert the operator if an autonomous technology failure is detected while the autonomous technology is engaged, and when an alert is given, the system shall do either of the following:

(i) Require the operator to take control of the autonomous vehicle.

(ii) If the operator does not or is unable to take control of the autonomous vehicle, the autonomous vehicle shall be capable of coming to a complete stop.

(D) The autonomous vehicle shall allow the operator to take control in multiple manners, including, without limitation, through the use of the brake, the accelerator pedal, or the steering wheel, and it shall alert the operator that the autonomous technology has been disengaged.

(E) The autonomous vehicle’s autonomous technology meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for the vehicle’s model year and all other applicable safety standards and performance requirements set forth in state and federal law and the regulations promulgated pursuant to those laws.

(F) The autonomous technology does not make inoperative any Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for the vehicle’s model year and all other applicable safety standards and performance requirements set forth in state and federal law and the regulations promulgated pursuant to those laws.

(G) The autonomous vehicle has a separate mechanism, in addition to, and separate from, any other mechanism required by law, to capture and store the autonomous technology sensor data for at least 30 seconds before a collision occurs between the autonomous vehicle and another vehicle, object, or natural person while the vehicle is operating in autonomous mode. The autonomous technology sensor data shall be captured and stored in a read-only format by the mechanism so that the data is retained until extracted from the mechanism by an external device capable of downloading and storing the data. The data shall be preserved for three years after the date of the collision.

(2) A certification that the manufacturer has tested the autonomous technology on public roads and has complied with the testing standards, if any, established by the department pursuant to subdivision (d).

(3) A certification that the manufacturer will maintain, an instrument of insurance, a surety bond, or proof of self-insurance as specified in regulations adopted by the department pursuant to subdivision (d), in an amount of five million dollars ($5,000,000).

(d) (1)  As soon as practicable, but no later than January 1, 2015, the department shall adopt regulations setting forth requirements for the submission of evidence of insurance, surety bond, or self-insurance required by subdivision (b), and the submission and approval of an application to operate an autonomous vehicle pursuant to subdivision (c).

(2) The regulations shall include any testing, equipment, and performance standards, in addition to those established for purposes of subdivision (b), that the department concludes are necessary to ensure the safe operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads, with or without the presence of a driver inside the vehicle. In developing these regulations, the department may consult with the Department of the California Highway Patrol, the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, or any other entity identified by the department that has expertise in automotive technology, automotive safety, and autonomous system design.

(3) The department may establish additional requirements by the adoption of regulations, which it determines, in consultation with the Department of the California Highway Patrol, are necessary to ensure the safe operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads, including, but not limited to, regulations regarding the aggregate number of deployments of autonomous vehicles on public roads, special rules for the registration of autonomous vehicles, new license requirements for operators of autonomous vehicles, and rules for revocation, suspension, or denial of any license or any approval issued pursuant to this division.

(4) The department shall hold public hearings on the adoption of any regulation applicable to the operation of an autonomous vehicle without the presence of a driver inside the vehicle.

(e) (1) The department shall approve an application submitted by a manufacturer pursuant to subdivision (c) if it finds that the applicant has submitted all information and completed testing necessary to satisfy the department that the autonomous vehicles are safe to operate on public roads and the applicant has complied with all requirements specified in the regulations adopted by the department pursuant to subdivision (d).

(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), if the application seeks approval for autonomous vehicles capable of operating without the presence of a driver inside the vehicle, the department may impose additional requirements it deems necessary to ensure the safe operation of those vehicles, and may require the presence of a driver in the driver’s seat of the vehicle if it determines, based on its review pursuant to paragraph (1), that such a requirement is necessary to ensure the safe operation of those vehicles on public roads. The department shall notify the Legislature of the receipt of an application from a manufacturer seeking approval to operate an autonomous vehicle capable of operating without the presence of a driver inside the vehicle and approval of the application. Approval of the application shall be effective no sooner than 180 days after the date the application is submitted.

(f) Nothing in this division shall limit or expand the existing authority to operate autonomous vehicles on public roads, until 120 days after the department adopts the regulations required by paragraph (1) of subdivision (d).

(g) Federal regulations promulgated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shall supersede the provisions of this division when found to be in conflict with any other state law or regulation.

(h) The manufacturer of the autonomous technology installed on a vehicle shall provide a written disclosure to the purchaser of an autonomous vehicle that describes what information is collected by the autonomous technology equipped on the vehicle. The department may promulgate regulations to assess a fee upon a manufacturer that submits an application pursuant to subdivision (c) to operate autonomous vehicles on public roads in an amount necessary to recover all costs reasonably incurred by the department.

(Amended by Stats. 2014, Ch. 362, Sec. 9. Effective January 1, 2015.)

38755.
  

(a) Notwithstanding Section 38750, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority is authorized to conduct a pilot project for the testing of autonomous vehicles that do not have a driver seated in the driver’s seat and are not equipped with a steering wheel, a brake pedal, or an accelerator provided the following requirements are met:

(1) The testing shall be conducted only at a privately owned business park designated by the authority, inclusive of public roads within the designated business park, and at GoMentum Station located within the boundaries of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.

(2) The autonomous vehicle shall operate at speeds of less than 35 miles per hour.

(b) A change in ownership of the property comprising the GoMentum Station shall not affect the authorization to conduct testing pursuant to this section.

(c) Prior to the start of the testing of an autonomous vehicle that does not have a driver seated in the driver’s seat on or across a public road, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority or a private entity, or a combination of the two, shall do both of the following:

(1) Obtain an instrument of insurance, surety bond, or proof of self-insurance in an amount of five million dollars ($5,000,000), and shall provide evidence of the insurance, surety bond, or proof of self-insurance to the Department of Motor Vehicles in the form and manner required by the department.

(2) Submit a detailed description of the testing program to the department. The detailed description shall include all of the following:

(A) Certification that, prior to testing on public roads, the autonomous vehicle has been tested under controlled conditions that simulate, as closely as practicable, the real world conditions that the autonomous vehicle will be subject to during this pilot project, and that the Contra Costa Transportation Authority or a private entity, or a combination of the two, has made a reasonable determination that it is safe to operate the autonomous vehicle on public roads under these conditions.

(B) Evidence satisfactory to the department that the City of San Ramon and any other local authorities with jurisdiction over the public roads in the designated privately owned business park approve of the geographic area and environmental, traffic, and speed conditions authorized for purposes of this pilot project.

(C) Certification that the autonomous vehicle can only operate in autonomous mode in the geographic area and environmental, traffic, and speed conditions authorized in this specific pilot project.

(D) Certification that this pilot project complies, or will comply, with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidance, if any, on the safe testing, deployment, and operation of autonomous vehicles.

(E) Certification that the autonomous vehicle used in the pilot project complies with all applicable federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, or written evidence that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration either considers the absence of a steering wheel, a brake pedal, or an accelerator permissible under federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or has granted the autonomous vehicle an exemption from compliance with the relevant federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

(F) Identify to the department the autonomous vehicles that are to be tested on public roads during this pilot project. For each vehicle, the manufacturer shall provide to the department the make, model, and model year of the vehicle, the full vehicle identification number, and the license plate number and the state of issuance.

(G) Certification that the vehicle is equipped with a communication link between the vehicle and a remote operator to provide information on the vehicle’s location and status and to 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 while operating without a driver.

(H) Certification that the autonomous vehicle is designed to detect and respond to roadway conditions in compliance with all provisions of this code and local regulations applicable to the operation of motor vehicles.

(I) A copy of a law enforcement interaction plan, which includes information that the Contra Costa Transportation Authority or a private entity, or a combination of the two, will provide to the law enforcement agencies whose jurisdiction covers the designated privately owned business park to instruct those agencies on how to interact with the vehicle in emergency and traffic enforcement situations.

(d) The operator of the autonomous vehicle technology tested pursuant to this section shall disclose to an individual who participates in the pilot project what personal information, if any, concerning the pilot project participant is collected by an autonomous vehicle.

(e) For the testing of autonomous vehicles within the designated business park, the department may require data collection for evaluating the safety of the vehicles, including, but not limited to, both of the following:

(1) A report to the department of any accident originating from the operation of the autonomous vehicle on a public road that resulted in the damage of property or in bodily injury or death. Accidents shall be reported within 10 days in the form and manner specified by the department pursuant to the regulations adopted by the department under Section 38750.

(2) The submission to the department of an annual report in the form and manner specified by the department pursuant to the regulations adopted under Section 38750 summarizing information on unplanned technology disengagements that occurred while the autonomous vehicle was being tested on public roads. “Disengagement” means a deactivation of the autonomous mode when a failure of the autonomous technology is detected or when the safe operation of the vehicle required disengagement from the autonomous mode.

(f) This section does not limit the authority of the department to promulgate regulations governing the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads, with or without the presence of a driver inside the vehicle, pursuant to Section 38750.

(g) It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting the act that added this section, to address the specific circumstances of the pilot project proposed in the County of Contra Costa. Pursuant to Section 38750, the Department of Motor Vehicles is developing regulations for the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles, and it is not the intent of the Legislature to influence the content of those statewide regulations through the adoption of the act that added this section, which is only intended to govern the establishment of one local pilot project.

(h) This section shall remain in effect only until 180 days after the operative date of regulations promulgated by the department to allow testing of autonomous vehicles without a driver in the vehicle, on which date any testing of autonomous vehicles by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority shall conform to those regulations, and as of the January 1 following that date this section is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted before that January 1, deletes or extends that date.

(Added by Stats. 2016, Ch. 814, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2017. Inoperative on date prescribed by its own provisions. Repealed, by its own provisions, on January 1 following inoperative date.)

VEHVehicle Code - VEH