AUTOMATED VEHICLES: Mass. governor lays groundwork to test self-driving cars in state

Gov. Baker issued an executive order to begin the process of regulating self-driving cars

Automated Vehicles News October 24, 2016
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Gov. Baker issued an executive order to begin the process of regulating self-driving cars

Image source: AP / Tony Avelar

Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on Thursday issued an executive order creating a framework for the testing of self-driving cars on Massachusetts roads. The executive order also creates a working group to discuss proposed legislation and regulations related to autonomous vehicles.


State officials are still figuring out what opportunities there are and what regulations must be implemented to keep the streets safe. While federal officials are considering some of these issues, each state must decide how it wants its own regulations to look.


Baker's order creates a working group comprised of transportation, public safety and economic development officials and political appointees. The working group will consult with experts and develop proposals for legislation to regulate the self-driving car industry while ensuring that it can continue to develop in Massachusetts.


The group will also work with car companies, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and municipalities to come up with memorandums of understanding that will allow companies to test self-driving cars on Massachusetts roads. The memorandum may require information about safety and testing records, requirements for insurance, maximum speed information, operator training information or anything else necessary for public safety.


Any vehicles tested on public roads will have to have a human inside the car who is capable of taking over control. A self-driving car will also have to pass a Registry of Motor Vehicles inspection, and the company will have to show that it can be operated "without undue risk to public safety."


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