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Driver Less Delivery Vehicles Now Legal In California

In a law recently passed, California will now allow the used of light autonomous vehicles for the use of commercial deliveries.  As such, deliveries of pizza orders, and much more, will be able to be made by robot-guided vehicles.

Although the use of such vehicles in California is nothing new, the latest legislation is merely an extension of the current regulations.  These most recent guidelines were initially proposed in April by the state’s DMV.

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Image: IEEE Spectrum

There are currently two forms of autonomous vehicles in service — those that require a safety driver on board, and those that do not require a safety driver.  The latter, a driverless vehicle, purports to be the end goal of the new legislation.

However, in an attempt to ensure the safety of others on the road, any companies making use of an autonomous vehicle are required to complete a safety driver stage first.  These regulations are not universal, and at present, differ in requirements from state to state.

Before the newest legislation, Waymo was the sole company that had the approval to test its driverless vehicles on the state’s roadways.  Now, following the introduction of the last regulations, any approved company has the legal ability to both test and use their delivery vehicles—driver or no driver.

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Image: The Robot Report

The regulations went into effect on December 16th, but limit the weight of the vehicles to be used to that of less than 10,0001 pounds.  Those vehicles that the DMV states fall into this weight class include:

“autonomous passenger cars, mid-sized pickup trucks, and cargo vans that are carrying goods—such as pizza or groceries.”

At this time, any vehicles that weight over the limit of 10,001 pounds remain bound to the previously established rules and regulations.

In order to operate the vehicles legally on the roads, a special permit must be obtained from the DMV, as well as the vehicle must comply with being equipped with a special data recorder.