In California, the DMV now allows the testing of autonomous light duty trucks. “Light duty” means anything up to 10,000 pounds (5 tons). This means, according to a post by StreetsblogCal, that your pizza could be delivered with no driver.
In late 2019, the California DMV released its final rules for companies that want to test light-duty trucks as delivery vehicles. The DMV now plans to approve applications for testing in 2020. These regulations will cover tests in which a driver is present and also in which a driver is not present.
In the vehicles without a driver, there are more rules in regards to keeping the communication link between the vehicle and the remote operator. There also needs to be a plan for interacting with law enforcement. Imagine one of those famous high-speed chases, then take away the driver. StreegsblogCal points out that despite all of these rules, there isn’t any rule about how many vehicles a remote operator can manage simultaneously. There also don’t seem to be any other rules on liability except the law enforcement plan.
— Streetsblog CA (@StreetsblogCal) December 18, 2019
There are a total of 65 companies that have permits to test autonomous vehicles on California roads, and Waymo is the only one with a permit to test without a driver.
Tesla has created a “full self-driving” computer chip and has set the bar high for this field, but Teslas still require a driver to be present and attentive, since Autopilot isn’t all the way there yet (and currently can’t even stop at stop signs or red lights). Even Tesla drivers should be ready to take over at any moment. Don’t play games on your phone while driving, and always be aware of your surroundings.
What will follow with the new California regs? Will Tesla robocars or other companies’ robocars be delivering your pizza, packages, and flowers to your home within a few years?