Vetoed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced a bill on Friday that would require a human safety operator to be present at any time a self-driving truck is operating on the state’s public roads.
The victory for the autonomous trucking industry comes after the California Senate passed the bill in mid-September. The bill would have effectively banned driverless autonomous heavy-duty trucks from operating the way they were designed.
“Assembly Bill 316 is unnecessary for the regulation and oversight of heavy-duty autonomous vehicle technology in California, as existing law provides sufficient authority to create the appropriate regulatory framework,” Newsom wrote in his letter blocking the bill.
Despite being a battleground for robotaxi companies like Waymo and Cruise to develop and commercialize their technology, California has some of the strictest autonomous vehicle regulations in the country.
Companies must go through several rounds of permits to test and deploy in the state, according to rules set forth by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Currently, only light-duty trucks are allowed on public roads.
The DMV is considering lifting the current ban on testing autonomous vehicles weighing more than 10,001 pounds in the state. The agency held a public workshop earlier this year on the matter, prompting California lawmakers to withdraw the AB 316 bill. The bill would have limited the DMV’s future authority to regulate AVs, a power the agency has held since 2012.
Assembly member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry first introduced the bill in January. Proponents of the law, including the Teamsters union, argue that the state should have more control over removing safety drivers from self-driving trucks to protect California road users and ensure safety. at work for truck drivers.
“I’m here today because Gavin Newsom signaled his intention to abandon the safety of 39 million Californians and veto AB 316, not only putting every driver in California at risk, but opening up Big Tech to eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs,” said Mike Di Bene, a member of Teamsters Local 70 in Oakland, in a statement.
AV companies, industry representatives and chambers of commerce argued that the bill would not only hinder the development of technology that could save lives, but also limit innovation in the supply chain and stifle competition. California economy.
In his letter, Newsom said he trusts the DMV to continue to monitor the testing and operation of AVs on California roads, suspending or revoking permits as necessary to protect public safety. He also said he would be committed to encouraging career paths and training workers to equip them with the skills needed to engage in this emerging technology.
Newsom said he has directed the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to lead a stakeholder process next year to review and develop recommendations to reduce the potential job impact of AV trucks.
“Considering my Administration’s long-standing commitment to addressing current and future challenges for California jobs and workers, and the existing regulatory framework that currently and adequately governs this particular technology, this bill is not needed at this time. For these reasons, I cannot sign this bill.