California launches two new autonomous vehicle programs

Program allows participants to offer passenger service and charge fares for rides in autonomous vehicles

December 07, 2020 / 1 minute read
autonomous vehicles

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently approved two new autonomous vehicle (AV) programs that allow companies to provide safe passenger transportation services, charge fares, and offer shared trips to the public.

This decision creates two new deployment programs: the Drivered Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Program and the Driverless Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Program, which allow participants to offer passenger service, shared rides, and accept monetary compensation for rides in autonomous vehicles. Companies must hold specific permits or certifications in the Drivered AV Passenger Service Pilot Program issued by the CPUC as well as a California DMV AV Deployment Permit to participate in both AV passenger service programs in the state.

Companies participating in the autonomous vehicle programs are required to submit data and quarterly reports to the CPUC with aggregated and anonymized information about the pick-up and drop-off locations for individual trips; the availability and volume of wheelchair accessible rides; the service levels to disadvantaged communities; the fuel type used by the vehicles and electric charging; the vehicle miles traveled and passenger miles traveled; and engagement with advocates for accessibility and disadvantaged communities.

“Today we usher in an important milestone for the CPUC’s regulation of transportation in California by authorizing an expanded deployment framework for autonomous vehicles that protects passenger safety, expands autonomous vehicle availability to all of Californians—including disadvantaged and low-income communities—and works to reduce greenhouse gases,” CPUC Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma said in a statement.

Permit holders in the new driverless deployment program must submit a Passenger Safety Plan that outlines policies and procedures to minimize risk for all passengers in the driverless vehicles, including those with limited mobility, vision impairments, or other disabilities. Additionally, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, permit holders in the program must submit a COVID-19 Emergency Plan following guidance on preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

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SOURCE: California Public Utilities Commission

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