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california legislation > SB 1298

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SB 1298 (Padilla)
As Amended August 20, 2012
Majority vote



|Ayes:|Bonnie Lowenthal, |Ayes:|Gatto, Blumenfield, |
| |Achadjian, Blumenfield, | |Bradford, |
| |Bonilla, Buchanan, Eng, | |Charles Calderon, Campos, |
| |Furutani, Galgiani, | |Davis, Fuentes, Hall, |
| |Logue, Miller, Norby, | |Hill, Cedillo, Mitchell, |
| |Portantino, Solorio | |Solorio |
| | | | |
SUMMARY : Establishes conditions for the operation of autonomous
vehicles upon public roadways. Specifically, this bill :

1)Makes legislative findings and declarations regarding new
technologies that permit motor vehicles to operate without the
active control and continuous monitoring of a human operator
and the need to encourage the current and future development,
testing, and operation of autonomous vehicles on the state's
public roads.

2)Defines "autonomous technology" as a technology that has the
capability to drive a vehicle without the active physical
control or continuous monitoring by a human operator.

3)Defines an "autonomous vehicle" as any vehicle equipped with
autonomous technology that has been integrated into that

4)Specifies that 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

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vehicle without the active control or monitoring of a human

5)Defines an "operator" of an autonomous vehicle as 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

6)Defines a "manufacturer" of autonomous technology as the
person who 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.

7)Allows an autonomous vehicle to be operated on public roads by
a driver who possesses the proper license for the vehicle
being operated if it is being operated on roads in this state
solely by employees, contractors, or other persons designated
by the manufacturer of the autonomous technology for testing
purposes. Under this scenario, the driver must be seated in
the driver's seat, monitoring the safe operation of the
autonomous vehicle, and shall be capable of taking over
immediate manual control of the autonomous vehicle in the
event of an autonomous technology failure or other emergency.
Prior to the start of testing in this state, the person
performing the testing must obtain an instrument of insurance,
surety bond, or proof of self-insurance, as specified in
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) regulations, in the amount
of $5 million dollars.

8)Allows, alternatively, such vehicles to be operated on public
roads if the manufacturer of the autonomous technology
provides all of the following:

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

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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 does either of the following:

i) Require the operator to take control of the
autonomous vehicle; or,

ii) Allow the autonomous vehicle to come to a complete
stop if the operator does not or is unable to take
control of the autonomous vehicle.

d) The autonomous vehicle allows 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 alerts 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 thirty 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
must 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. Such data must be preserved for three
years after the date of the collision.

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9)Prohibits an autonomous vehicle from being operated on public
roads, other than by manufacturers' representatives for
testing purposes, unless the manufacturer first submits an
application to DMV that contains, at a minimum, a
certification by the manufacturer that the autonomous
technology meets all of the required capabilities described
above; that the manufacturer has tested the autonomous
technology on public roads and complies with any DMV testing
standards; and that the manufacturer will maintain a surety
bond, or proof of self-insurance, in an amount of $5 million
per DMV regulations.

10)Requires DMV, prior to January 1, 2014, to adopt regulations
setting forth requirements for the submission and approval of
an application to operate an autonomous vehicle and to 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.

11)Requires the regulations to include any testing standards, in
addition to those established by, developed by the Department
of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the Institute of
Transportation Studies at the University of California, or any
other entity chosen by the DMV that has expertise in
automotive technology, automotive safety, and autonomous
system design, that DMV approves and concludes are necessary
to ensure the safe operation of autonomous vehicles on public

12)Allows DMV to establish additional requirements by the
adoption of regulations, which it determines, in consultation
with the CHP, are necessary to ensure the safe operation of
autonomous vehicles on public roads, including regulations
regarding the number of deployments of autonomous vehicles on
public roads.

13)Requires DMV to approve an application submitted by a
manufacturer upon verification that the manufacturer has
submitted test results demonstrating that the autonomous
vehicles are safe to operate on public roads.

14)Specifies, if the application seeks approval for autonomous
vehicles capable of operating without the presence of a driver
inside the vehicle, that the department may impose additional

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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 of the testing conducted by the manufacturer, that
such a requirement is necessary to ensure the safe operation
of those vehicles on public roads.

15)Requires DMV to 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

16)Allows DMV to establish additional requirements by rule which
it determines, in consultation with the CHP, are necessary to
ensure the safe operation of autonomous vehicles on public

17)Provides that this bill does not limit or expand the existing
authority to operate autonomous vehicles on public roads,
until 120 days after DMV adopts those regulations.

18)Provides that federal regulations promulgated by the National
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will supersede this
bill's provisions when found to be in conflict with them.

19)Requires the manufacturer of autonomous technology installed
on a vehicle to provide a written disclosure to the purchaser
of an autonomous vehicle that describes what information is
collected by the autonomous technology equipped on the

20)Allows DMV to promulgate regulations to assess a fee upon
manufacturers that submit applications to operate autonomous
vehicles on public roads in an amount necessary to recover all
the costs it reasonably incurs.


1)Defines a vehicle as "a device by which any person or property
may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a
device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively

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upon stationary rails or tracks."

2)Provides numerous rules governing the operation of vehicles on
the state's public and private roads but does not, however,
require that a person drive the vehicle.

FISCAL EFFECT : According to the Assembly Appropriations
Committee, one-time costs of an unknown amount, but likely in
excess of $150,000 in 2012-13, to DMV to adopt regulations via a
public process and a one-time cost of an unknown amount, but
likely in the tens of thousands of dollars in 2012-13, to the
CHP to consult with DMV on regulatory development.

COMMENTS : The author notes that despite the many safety
improvements to the automobile since its invention, auto
accidents remain a leading cause of death. The Centers for
Disease Control (CDC) reports that motor vehicle crashes are the
leading cause of death among people five through 34 years old.
In 2009, more than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were
treated in emergency rooms as the result of being injured in
motor vehicle crashes nationwide. Additionally, according to
NHTSA, in 2010, a total of 32,885 people died in the United
States in car accidents. More than 2,700 of these traffic
fatalities were in California. Car accidents also result in a
significant economic cost. A 2005 CDC report found that the
lifetime cost of crash-related deaths and injuries among drivers
and passengers was $70 billion.

The author points out that the vast majority of traffic
fatalities and injuries are due to human error, noting that a
2006 U.S. Department of Transportation study found that some
form of driver error occurred in nearly 80% of car accidents.
The author asserts that through the use of computers, sensors
and other systems, an autonomous vehicle is capable of analyzing
the driving environment more quickly and operating a vehicle
more safely than a human being. And, as supporters point out,
driverless vehicles hold the promise of tremendous mobility
opportunities for individuals whose physical conditions render
them unable to drive themselves.

This bill is intended to enable California to join several other
states in seeking safe testing and operational standards for
autonomous vehicles. Last year, the State of Nevada enacted a
similar bill into law. (The Nevada DMV recently issued to

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Google the first license in that state to test autonomous
vehicles.) In addition, Florida recently passed legislation and
Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Arizona are all currently considering
legislation regarding autonomous vehicles. The author and
supporters note that as a global technology leader, California
is uniquely positioned to be the leader in the deployment of
autonomous technology and the manufacture of autonomous
vehicles. He states that this technology will not only save
lives, it will create jobs.

The federal government has yet to regulate autonomous vehicles
in any fashion. NHTSA, the entity responsible for developing
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, has yet to initiate a
process to develop standards for autonomous vehicle technology,
and even once it does so, it likely will take several years to
finalize those standards. It is not uncommon, however, for
federal standards to lag innovation in the auto industry and for
manufacturers to add safety improvements to vehicles prior to
the development of applicable standards.

Clearly, technology in this area is advancing dramatically and
it is logical and desirable that California, home to many of the
world's technology giants, should be in the vanguard of the
development of autonomous vehicles. But the move to driverless
automotive transportation cannot be embarked upon without
careful consideration. The current version of this bill
represents a sincere attempt by the author and supporters to
meet a variety of concerns and to balance numerous overlapping
interests. There are, however, a number of issues that remain

First, automobile makers fear that when this technology is added
on to the vehicles they have designed for use by human
operators, they may be drawn into liability litigation upon an
accident caused by the failure of that after-market equipment or
of its installation rather than due to any inherent safety
problem with the vehicle itself. Although the author asserts
that existing tort law and case law absolve them of any
liability in such instances, the automakers understandably
desire explicit language in the bill to make this clear.

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Secondly, although this bill requires disclosure to autonomous
technology purchases of the data-collection capabilities of the
equipment, privacy advocates are troubled by the ability of this
technology to collect without restriction large amounts of data
and instead believe that data collection should be limited to
only that data that is necessary for the operation of the
vehicle and that such data not be retained any longer than is
necessary for the operation of the vehicle - unless the vehicle
owner provides informed opt-in consent for such collection.

Finally, some observers wonder if this bill is premature in
providing a mechanism that potentially allows driverless
operation, rather than waiting to pursue such statutory
authorization at such time as extensive on-road experience
indicates it is timely to do so.

Analysis Prepared by : Howard Posner / TRANS. / (916) 319-2093

FN: 0005042