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california legislation > ():
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.

(pdf version)
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, as amended, 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, by a driver who possesses the proper
class of license for the type of vehicle being operated, or without
the presence of a driver inside the vehicle, if an application is
submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles and specified
conditions are met. 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.
In cases in which
the autonomous vehicle is to be operated on public roads for testing
purposes, the bill would require, among other things, 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. To otherwise operate an
autonomous vehicle on public roads, the bill would require the
manufacturer of the autonomous technology to provide an autonomous
vehicle that satisfies specific criteria. If there is no person in
the driver's seat, the operator is the person who causes the
autonomous technology to engage in the vehicle, and the bill would
authorize the department to impose additional requirements it deems
necessary to ensure the safe operation of that vehicle. The bill
would require that the autonomous vehicle's technology meets
federal
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, prior to January 1, 2014, that the
Department of Motor Vehicles adopt regulations setting forth
requirements for the submission and approval of an application to
operate an autonomous vehicle, including any testing 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 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.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.
State-mandated local program: no.


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.

SECTION 1. SEC. 2. Division 16.6
(commencing with Section 38750) is added to the Vehicle Code, to
read:

DIVISION 16.6. Autonomous Vehicles


38750. 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.

38751. 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) 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.
(4) (A) 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) If the vehicle was not originally equipped with autonomous
technology by the vehicle manufacturer, a person may modify the
vehicle by installing autonomous technology that converts that
vehicle into an autonomous vehicle. It is the intent of the
Legislature that current law governing the conversion of vehicles
originally manufactured by a third party shall control issues of
liability arising from the operation of the autonomous vehicle if
that vehicle was converted by an autonomous technology manufacturer.
It is not the intent of the Legislature to relieve an original
equipment manufacturer (OEM) from liability under existing law where
the OEM has participated in or facilitated the adaptation of the
vehicle to autonomous technology. Further, it is not the intent of
the Legislature that the enactment of this division, establishing
requirements for the testing and operation of an autonomous vehicle
that has been converted after the vehicle was originally
manufactured, makes the conversion of that vehicle a reasonably
foreseeable occurrence to the original manufacturer of that vehicle.
Enactment of this division imposes no additional duty, or additional
liability, on an original manufacturer of a vehicle that is converted
to an autonomous vehicle by an autonomous vehicle manufacturer other
than the original manufacturer of that vehicle.

(b) An autonomous vehicle may be operated on public roads by a
driver who possesses the proper class of license for the type of
vehicle being operated if either of the following applies:
(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 for testing
purposes. 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. Prior to the
start of testing in this state, the person performing the testing
shall obtain an instrument of insurance, surety bond, or proof of
self-insurance as specified in regulations adopted by the Department
of Motor Vehicles pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (d), in
the amount of five million dollars ($5,000,000).
(2) 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 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.
(c) Except as provided in paragraph (1) of subdivision (b), an
autonomous vehicle may not be operated on public roads unless the
manufacturer first submits an application to the Department of Motor
Vehicles that contains, at a minimum, all of the following:
(1) A certification by the manufacturer that the autonomous
technology meets all of the requirements of paragraph (2) of
subdivision (b).
(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 of Motor
Vehicles pursuant to paragraph (1) of 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 of Motor Vehicles pursuant to paragraph (1) of
subdivision (d), in an amount of five million dollars ($5,000,000).
(d) Prior to January 1, 2014, the Department of Motor Vehicles
shall adopt regulations setting forth requirements for the submission
and approval of an application to operate an autonomous vehicle
pursuant to this division and 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. The regulations shall include any testing standards, in
addition to those established by paragraph (1) of subdivision (b),
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 department that has
expertise in automotive technology, automotive safety, and autonomous
system design , that the department approves and
concludes are necessary to ensure the safe operation of autonomous
vehicles on public roads. The department may 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.
(e) The Department of Motor Vehicles shall approve an application
submitted by a manufacturer pursuant to subdivision (c) upon
verification that the manufacturer has submitted test results
demonstrating that the autonomous vehicles are safe to operate on
public roads. Notwithstanding the foregoing, 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 of the testing conducted by the manufacturer, that such a
requirement is necessary to ensure the safe operation of those
vehicles on public roads. The Department of Motor Vehicles 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 of Motor Vehicles adopts the regulations
authorized by this subdivision.
(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 of Motor Vehicles 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.