Pursuant to state law and regulation, the California Department of Motor Vehicles issued a permit to AutoX authorizing the company to test driverless vehicles on surface streets within a designated part of San Jose.
While AutoX has had state authority to test autonomous vehicles with safety drivers since 2017, the new permit allows the company to test one autonomous vehicle without a driver behind the wheel on specified streets around its San Jose headquarters. The vehicle is approved to operate in fair weather conditions and light precipitation on streets with a speed limit of no more than 45 mph.
Under state law established in 2012, the DMV is required to adopt regulations covering both the testing and public use of autonomous vehicles on California roadways. Regulations to allow testing with a safety driver behind the wheel took effect on Sept. 16, 2014. Rules to allow testing without a driver and deployment of autonomous vehicles were subsequently adopted and took effect on April 2, 2018. Regulations allowing for light-duty autonomous delivery vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds were approved on Dec. 16, 2019.
AutoX is the third company to receive a driverless permit in the state. Currently, 62 companies have an active permit to test autonomous vehicles with a safety driver.
In order to receive a driverless testing permit, manufacturers must certify they meet a number of safety, insurance and vehicle registration requirements, including:
- Providing evidence of insurance or a bond equal to $5 million.
- 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 is a SAE Level 4 or 5 vehicle.
- Confirming vehicles have been tested under controlled conditions that simulate the planned area of operation.
- Notifying local governments of planned testing in the area.
- Developing a Law Enforcement Interaction Plan that provides information to law enforcement and other first responders on how to interact with test vehicles.
- Continuously monitoring the status of test vehicles.
- Training remote operators on the technology being tested.
Driverless testing permit holders must also report to the DMV any collisions involving a driverless test vehicle within 10 days and submit an annual report of disengagements.