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Autonomous Vehicles in California

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Autonomous Vehicles in California

Testing of Autonomous Vehicles
Deployment of Autonomous Vehicles for Public Operation

DMV's Role

California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 38750 requires the DMV to adopt regulations governing both the testing and public use of autonomous vehicles on California roadways. The autonomous vehicles testing regulations were adopted on May 19, 2014 and became effective on September 16, 2014. The regulations for the deployment of autonomous vehicles are currently under development.  On December 16, 2015, the DMV released the draft deployment regulations for review. This page has been developed to share information on DMV’s development of autonomous vehicles.

Key Definitions

California Vehicle Code Section 38750 established several definitions that will guide the department's development of regulations.

  • "Autonomous technology" means technology that has the capability to drive a vehicle without the active physical control or monitoring by a human operator.
  • "Autonomous vehicle" means any vehicle equipped with autonomous technology that has been integrated into that vehicle. An autonomous vehicle does not include a vehicle that is equipped with one or more collision avoidance systems, such as electronic blind spot assistance, automated emergency braking systems, park assist, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and traffic jam and queuing assist.
  • An "operator" of an autonomous vehicle is the person who is seated in the driver's seat, or if there is no person in the driver's seat, causes the autonomous technology to engage.
  • A "manufacturer" of autonomous technology is the person that originally manufactures a vehicle and equips autonomous technology on an originally completed vehicle or, in the case of a vehicle not originally equipped with autonomous technology by the manufacturer, the person that modifies the vehicle by installing autonomous technology to convert it to an autonomous vehicle after the vehicle was originally manufactured.

Regulations Development

As required by CVC Section 38750, DMV will adopt regulations that establish the requirements for the:

  • Submission of the evidence of insurance, surety bond, or self-insurance required for manufacturers' testing of autonomous vehicles.
  • Submission and approval of the application to operate an autonomous vehicle beyond testing, including any testing, equipment, performance standards, or safety standards.

DMV, in consultation with the Department of the California Highway Patrol, may establish additional requirements via regulations which it determines are necessary to ensure the safe operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads.

For additional information on the requirements of CVC Section 38750, please consult the California Vehicle Code.

Related Information

This section provides links to additional information related to autonomous vehicles regulations.

U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Statement of Policy on Automated Vehicles (PDF).

U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Federal Automated Vehicles Policy (PDF).

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