California to allow testing of light-duty self-driving trucks

California would allow the testing of autonomous light duty trucks on public roads according to a proposed rule announced on Friday. The state Department of Motor Vehicles announced the proposal today, which describes a permitting process for companies wishing to deploy driverless trucks for testing.

The rule would only apply to autonomous vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds. That means that only Class 1 and 2 vans, which include minivans, pickup trucks, utility vans and pickup trucks, could be allowed to perform tests in accordance with the proposed rule. Under this permit system, all Class 3 to 8 vehicles, which include delivery trucks, semi trucks, buses, and heavy-duty construction vehicles, will not be permitted.

California is a hotbed for autonomous vehicle testing, so changes made to the state standards that govern these tests are closely followed by companies like General Motors, Alphabet & # 39; s Waymo and Uber, They are developing fleets of self-driven cars for public use. According to the authorities, there are currently 62 companies allowed and almost 300 autonomous vehicles licensed by the DMV. Waymo is the only company with a permit to test vehicles without a driver on public roads.

This proposed rule seems to be a small step towards the eventuality of allowing class 8 heavy trucks, with autonomous equipment, to be tested on public roads. Waymo has been testing its automatic tractor trailers in Atlanta. Other companies, such as Daimler and TuSimple, are also working to get a truck without a driver.

For now, the new DMV rule seems to open the door for those companies that are testing much smaller delivery vehicles, such as Nuro, Udelv and Ford, although those companies are already allowed in the state's main AV testing program. .

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