California to Allow Testing of Self-Driving Delivery Trucks

The California Dept. of Motor Vehicles this month proposed a rule that would allow self-driving light-duty delivery trucks to be tested on public roads.

The state already allows such tests for autonomous passenger vehicles. Under the new proposal, companies also would be able to test Class 1 and 2 “mototrucks” (utility vehicles and vans weighing less than 10,001 lbs and primarily used to transport goods). The state continues to prohibit larger autonomous trucks from being tested on public roads.

As with current rules for cars, companies would have to apply for and be granted a permit before they could test a light-duty autonomous truck in California. Separate permits are required for testing vehicles with or without a backup driver onboard.

Companies testing the trucks will not be allowed to charge delivery or transportation fees until the technology is approved for broader use. Comments on the proposed regulation are sought through the end of May, at which time a public hearing will be held.

To date, 62 companies and nearly 700 passenger vehicles have been approved for autonomous testing in California. Waymo is the only company to be approved to date for testing without a backup driver.