Autonomous Vehicles Testing with a Driver

One Way Street Sign

In order to encourage innovation and gain a better understanding of both the efficiency and the limitations of autonomous vehicles, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) started testing autonomous vehicles in 2014 under the Autonomous Vehicle Tester (AVT) Program. In this program, test vehicles require a human in the driver seat who can take control of the vehicle at any time.

The Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program is administered by the DMV Autonomous Vehicles Branch. We are currently accepting applications for the program.

As of February 25, 2021, there are 56 Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit holders.

Regulations

Autonomous Vehicle Testing

Automated Permit Application for Manufacturers Operating in California

The DMV has made the application process more convenient and more efficient with its online automated application process for those who want to apply for Autonomous Vehicle testing permits in the state of California.

This automated process is for manufacturers of autonomous vehicles who are applying for their permits for original, renewal or modification (Form OL 311) to operate in California.

How to Apply for the AVT Program – AV Testing with a Driver

Autonomous Vehicle Tester (AVT) Program for Manufacturer’s Testing Permit Brochure

Before you apply for the AVT Program, complete the following steps:

  • Obtain an Employer Pull Notice (EPN) Program number and enroll drivers in the EPN Program that will be identified in the Autonomous Vehicle Tester (AVT) Program Application (OL 311).
  • Sign up for email alerts to stay current on application requirements and changes that may impact program participation.

To apply for the AVT Program, complete the following:

  • Autonomous Vehicle Tester (ATV) Program Application for Manufacturer’s Testing Permit (OL 311).
    • Complete an application for an original, renewal or modification (OL 311) with the automated online application.
    • Provide the department a written explanation if applicant is unable to acknowledge any of the statements in Section 4 of the OL311. Please indicate N/A in place of initials.

For a glossary description of what is required on the application.

To make inquiries and receive reports electronically Autonomous Vehicle Manufacturers have the following options:

File transfer: You can use DMV secure file transfer (SFT) system and/or the File Generation System (FGS) to send inquires and receive reports for prospective new hires, casual drivers, and newly enrolled drivers.

SFT Benefits:

  • Allows manufacturers to exchange data electronically with DMV
  • Secure website that stores files up to 30 days
  • Manufacturers receive results the next business day

FGS Benefits:

  • Manufacturers can format data for adding, deleting, and inquiries for EPN Program
  • Manufacturers can convert/view pull notice file as PDF

There is no additional charge to use these services and minimal technical assistance is required. Contact the Information Services’ Automation Development at CPDADU@dmv.ca.gov for more information.

How to Renew an AVT Program Permit

A permit is valid for a period of two years from midnight of the last day of the month it is issued (unless revoked or surrendered). To renew participation, follow the application steps above.

How to Modify an AVT Program Permit

To modify a permit, complete an Autonomous Vehicle Tester (ATV) Program Application online.

Fees

  • $70 fee to modify an address, authorized representative, driver/operator or vehicle(s)
  • $50 fee to add permits for drivers/operators and vehicles

Requirements for Participating in the AVT Program

Vehicle Registration Requirements

If your test vehicles are not operating under manufacturer or distributor plates (issued by Occupational Licensing or a state where a reciprocal agreement exists), they are required to have current California registration. To register autonomous test vehicles, you need to submit these additional documents:

Collision Reporting

Manufacturers need to report any collision that results in property damage, bodily injury, or death within 10 days of the incident. To report a collision, complete a Report of Traffic Accident Involving an Autonomous Vehicle (OL 316) and send it to the address on the form.

Annual Disengagement Reporting

Manufacturers must track how often their vehicles disengage from autonomous mode, whether that disengagement is the result of technology failure or situations requiring the test driver to take manual control of the vehicle to operate safely. That data must be retained and reported to DMV by January 1 of each year. To report disengagement data, complete an Annual Report of Autonomous Vehicle Disengagement (OL 311R) and mail it to the address on the form.

Disposing of Test Vehicles

There are restrictions on the sale, transfer, or disposal of test vehicles. Upon completion of testing, autonomous test vehicles can only be lawfully transferred or disposed of as follows:

  • To a manufacturer holding a valid autonomous vehicle manufacturer’s testing permit or a manufacturer’s testing permit – driverless vehicles.
  • The manufacturer disposing of the vehicle has obtained a nonrepairable vehicle certificate (REG 488C) ensuring that the vehicle is not retitled or resold. At that point:
    • Ownership of the vehicle can be transferred to an auto dismantler.
    • The manufacturer can dismantle or dispose of the vehicle and its major component parts.
  • Transfer ownership to an educational or research institution or a museum for display or study.

Licensing Authority

California Vehicle Code (CVC) Division 16.6, commencing with §38750.

California Code of Regulations Title 13.

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