The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has issued a permit to Cruise LLC, authorizing the company to test driverless vehicles on public roads in San Francisco. According to the California DMV, Cruise is the fifth company to receive a driverless testing permit in the state. Currently, 60 companies have an active permit to test autonomous vehicles with a safety driver, which Cruise has had state authority to do so since 2015.
Permit Scope & Limitations
The new permit allows Cruise to test up to five autonomous vehicles without a driver behind the wheel on specified streets within San Francisco. According to the California DMW, the vehicles are designed to operate on roads with posted speed limits not exceeding 30 miles per hour, during all times of the day and night, but not during heavy rain or fog.
“Right now, we’re building an all-electric, self-driving car service and taking the time to get to know the city. We’re learning. Following the rules. Going the speed limit. Looking both ways – twice,” writes Cruise in its Commitment to San Francisco. “Together, we’ll keep building a safer, cleaner world. And it all starts here, in San Francisco.”
Requirements for Testing
To receive a driverless testing permit, manufacturers must meet a number of safety, insurance, and vehicle registration requirements set forth by the State of California. These requirements include:
- Continuously monitoring the status of test vehicles.
- Notifying local governments of planned testing in the area.
- Training remote operators on the technology being tested.
- Provide evidence of insurance or a bond equal to $5 million.
- Confirm vehicles were tested under controlled conditions that simulate the area of operation.
- Developing a Law Enforcement Interaction Plan that provides information to law enforcement and other first responders on how to interact with test vehicles.
- Verifying vehicles are capable of operating without a driver, meet federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or have an exemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and are an SAE Level 4 or 5 vehicle.
Any collisions involving a driverless test vehicle must be reported within 10 days to the DMV. Similarly, all permit holders must submit an annual report of disengagements.
AV Testing Regulations Timeline
Under California state law established in 2012, the DMV is required to adopt regulations covering both the testing and public use of autonomous vehicles on state roadways. Regulations to allow testing with a safety driver behind the wheel took effect on September 16th, 2014. Rules to allow testing without a driver and deployment of autonomous vehicles were subsequently adopted and took effect on April 2nd, 2018. Regulations allowing for light-duty autonomous delivery vehicles weighing less than 10,001 lbs. were approved on December 16th, 2019.