SACRAMENTO, CA–The California Department of Motor Vehicles is poised to adopt regulations allowing for the testing of light-duty autonomous delivery vehicles on the state’s roads by the end of the year.
DMV held a public hearing Thursday in Sacramento, where members of the industry at the forefront of the new technology voiced their support for the regulations.
“Logistics is an area that continues to be a vital part of the economy and where we believe self-driving can improve outcomes and also increase safety,” said George Ivanov, with the autonomous vehicle company Waymo.
Xantha Bruso, with AAA Northern California, said the company is working to address safety concerns and consumer confidence in autonomous vehicles.
“AAA Northern California believes that carefully supervised testing of autonomous motor trucks in the environment in which they will be commercially operated is important to ensuring their safe deployment in California,” she said. “So, we support the DMV’s amendment to allow autonomous motor trucks to be tested and deployed in California.”
Matt Broad, a Teamsters representative, was the lone voice of opposition Thursday. He said the Teamsters believe the proposal to be unnecessary, costly and potentially dangerous.
He said the union represents 100,000 UPS delivery drivers in California.
“These drivers are in high-paid, stable, middle class jobs,” Broad said. “We fear that with the sort of, I guess, deployment of these vehicles, our drivers may be automated out of the workforce, and they risk falling into the social safety net.”
Most experts believe that that there will be a slow and gradual ramping up for autonomous vehicles for a variety of reasons, ranging from consumer acceptance, legal liability and the lack of good infrastructure for the vehicle technology to connect to. Among the things that self-driving cars need are good, clear lane markings and that is so inconsistent across the country that self-driving cars could be delayed years just because of that one short-coming.