The California Department of Motor Vehicles workshop on autonomous vehicles was held this week in Los Angeles.  (The same workshop was held previously in Sacramento.)  A transcript will be posted and the webcast of the Sacramento workshop is already available at https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/vr/autonomous/webcast. DMV materials, including the DMV’s draft regulations and developments are published at  https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/vr/autonomous/auto and are also linked below.

DMV Chief Counsel, Brian Soublet moderated the program.  The objective was to receive substantive input from persons with technical expertise in the testing and certification of vehicle safety to allow the DMV to continue with its development of post-testing deployment regulations.  The DMV’s next major step will be a public regulatory proposal through formal notice and a forty-five day comment period. At the conclusion of the forty-five day  notice period the DMV will schedule a hearing to take further comments.  In the interim, interested parties are welcome to submit comments to the DMV at LADRegulations@dmv.ca.gov. OEM manufacturers noted that the regulatory process may infringe on intellectual property rights, suggested that there is no need for regulation and asserted that the DMV is not in the best position to regulate autonomous vehicles.  An Audi engineer stated that the proposed manufacturer “consumer education plan and behind the wheel training program” would be burdensome and unnecessary, noting that prior advances were implemented without such training, i.e., without limitation, switching from manual to automatic transmission, adding back-up cameras, cruise control and other electronic features.

The primary block of speakers were comprised of over a dozen disabled persons and disability advocates, who protested the proposed regulation requiring licensed operators who possesses an autonomous vehicle operator certificate issued by the DMV to be behind the “wheel”. The gist of the group’s comments was that autonomous vehicles should be tested and later sold as purely autonomous vehicles; i.e., no steering wheel or take-over controls and no licensing requirements for the owner.  Other general comments came from representatives of the CA Department of Transportation, Volkswagen, consumer attorneys and consumer advocate groups, the Vice-Mayor of the City of Beverly Hills and special interest groups Securing Americas Future Energy and Autonomous Vehicle Task Force.  A representative from a “Smart Phone Based Application Association” also asked that the DMV create specific regulations for delivery and ride sharing companies such as Uber to require adult supervision for passenger safety.  Soublet mentioned that at the Sacramento workshop an automotive dealer network representative expressed concerns about responsibilities that dealers may have with respect to safety issues stemming from sales and service.  The DMV concluded by expressing that the benefits of autonomous vehicles are tremendous and that it wishes to see them developed and safely used in California.

Read the agenda.

Read the regulations summary.

Read the express terms.

View the DMV permit.