Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Program
The California Public Utilities Commission has authorized a certain class of transportation companies to commence two different pilot programs that involve the use of autonomous (driverless) vehicles to provide rides to members of the public. The decision authorizes only Transportation Charter-Party Carrier (TCP) permit-holders to use test autonomous vehicles to provide passenger service, as long as the TCP permit-holder also holds an “Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program Manufacturer’s Testing Permit” issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
TCPs are companies that offer ground transportation on a pre-arranged charter basis such as limousines and sightseeing services and autonomous vehicle that will be operated by Raiser–CA LLC operator of Uber in the state. (The commission recently ruled that unlike taxi cabs Uber, will also be regulated as a TCP, but has not yet decided to regulate San-Francisco–based Lyft as a TCP) The first pilot program will allow companies to provide passenger service using autonomous vehicles with a trained driver in the vehicle. The second pilot program will allow passenger service using driverless autonomous vehicles that meet the requirements set out by the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), including requirements to remotely monitor the status and operation of the vehicle. In keeping with the DMV’s rules, companies participating in the pilots may not charge for the rides until further PUC approval. Re Regulations Relating to Passenger Carriers, Ridesharing, and New Online-Enabled Transportation Services, R.12-12-011, Decision 18-05-043, May 31, 2018 (Cal.P.U.C.)