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Warning! This is a not the current version of this legislative bill.
Italicized text includes proposed additions to law or the previous version of the bill.
Struck text includes proposed deletions to law or the previous version of the bill.

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PASSED THE SENATE AUGUST 29, 2012
PASSED THE ASSEMBLY AUGUST 28, 2012
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY AUGUST 24, 2012
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY AUGUST 20, 2012
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY AUGUST 7, 2012
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY JUNE 19, 2012
AMENDED IN SENATE APRIL 16, 2012
AMENDED IN SENATE APRIL 9, 2012

INTRODUCED BY Senator Padilla

FEBRUARY 23, 2012

An act to add Division 16.6 (commencing with Section 38750) to the
Vehicle Code, relating to vehicles.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 1298, Padilla. Vehicles: autonomous vehicles: safety and
performance requirements.
Existing law requires the Department of the California Highway
Patrol to adopt rules and regulations that are designed to promote
the safe operation of specific vehicles, including, among other
things, schoolbuses and commercial motor vehicles. Existing law also
requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to register vehicles that
are being operated in this state and to issue a license plate to an
applicant for the operation and identification of that person's
vehicle.
This bill would authorize the operation of an autonomous vehicle,
as defined, on public roads for testing purposes, by a driver who
possesses the proper class of license for the type of vehicle being
operated if specified requirements are met, including that the driver
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. The bill would prohibit,
except as provided for testing purposes, the operation of such a
vehicle on public roads until the manufacturer submits an application
to the department that includes various certifications, including a
certification that the autonomous technology satisfies certain
requirements, and the application is approved by the department
pursuant to the regulations that the department would be required to
adopt. The bill would require one of the certifications to specify
that the autonomous vehicle's 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.
The bill would require that the Department of Motor Vehicles adopt
regulations as soon as practicable, but no later than January 1,
2015, setting forth requirements for the submission of evidence of
insurance, surety bond, or self-insurance required by the bill and
requirements for the submission or approval of an application to
operate an autonomous vehicle, including any testing, equipment, or
performance standards, as specified, 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. The bill would provide that federal regulations promulgated
by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration supersede state
law or regulation when found to be in conflict.
The bill would require the department to approve an application
submitted by a manufacturer upon making specified findings and would
authorize the department to impose additional requirements if the
application seeks approval for autonomous vehicles where there is no
person in the driver's seat. The bill would also require the
department 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 the approval of the application. The bill would
provide that approval of the application is effective no sooner than
180 days after the date the application is submitted.
The department would be authorized to charge a fee for the
application in an amount necessary to recover all costs reasonably
incurred by the department.


THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares all of the
following:
(a) Development is actively under way of new technology that,
through the use of computers, sensors, and other systems, permits a
motor vehicle to operate without the active control and continuous
monitoring of a human operator. Motor vehicles with this technology,
referred to as "autonomous vehicles," offer significant potential
safety, mobility, and commercial benefits for individuals and
businesses in the state and elsewhere.
(b) Autonomous vehicles have been operated safely on public roads
in the state in recent years by entities developing and testing this
technology.
(c) The State of California, which presently does not prohibit or
specifically regulate the operation of autonomous vehicles, desires
to encourage the current and future development, testing, and
operation of autonomous vehicles on the public roads of the state.
The state seeks to avoid interrupting these activities while at the
same time creating appropriate rules intended to ensure that the
testing and operation of autonomous vehicles in the state are
conducted in a safe manner.
(d) Toward that end, the Legislature finds it appropriate to
authorize the establishment of specific safety requirements for the
testing and operation of autonomous vehicles, and to require that
future testing and operation of autonomous vehicles in the state
comply with those requirements.
SEC. 2. Division 16.6 (commencing with Section 38750) is added to
the Vehicle Code, to read:

DIVISION 16.6. Autonomous Vehicles


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 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.