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California DMV issues permit for autonomous delivery service

The deployment permit grants Nuro permission to use a fleet of light-duty driverless vehicles for a commercial delivery service on surface streets within designated parts of the Bay Area.

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Nuro delivery vehicles will be deployed in parts of the Bay Area
Nuro delivery vehicles will be deployed in parts of the Bay Area

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has issued the state’s first autonomous vehicle deployment permit to Nuro, allowing the company to charge a fee and receive compensation for its driverless delivery service.

 

Unlike an autonomous testing permit, which limits the compensation that a manufacturer can receive from the public while validating the technology on public roads, a deployment permit authorises a company to make its autonomous technology commercially available outside of a testing programme.

 

Light-duty vehicles

 

The deployment permit grants Nuro permission to use a fleet of light-duty driverless vehicles for a commercial delivery service on surface streets within designated parts of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, which includes the cities of Atherton, East Palo Alto, Los Altos Hills, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Woodside.

 

The vehicles have a maximum speed of 25mph and are only approved to operate in fair weather conditions on streets with a speed limit of no more than 35mph.

 

Nuro has had state authority to test autonomous vehicles on public roads with a safety driver since 2017 and received a driverless testing permit in April 2020.

 

“Issuing the first deployment permit is a significant milestone in the evolution of autonomous vehicles in California,” said DMV director Steve Gordon. “We will continue to keep the safety of the motoring public in mind as this technology develops.”

 

Under state law established in 2012, the DMV is required to adopt regulations covering both the testing and public use of autonomous vehicles on California roadways. Regulations to allow for the deployment of autonomous vehicles were adopted and took effect on in April 2018. Regulations allowing for light-duty autonomous delivery vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds were approved in December 2019.

 

In order to receive a deployment permit, manufacturers must certify they meet a number of safety, insurance and vehicle registration requirements, including:

  • identifying the operational design domain of the vehicles, as well as describing any commonly occurring restricted conditions within which the vehicles would not be able to operate
  • verifying the technology is capable of detecting and responding to roadway situations in compliance with the California Vehicle Code, and describing how the vehicle meets the definition of an SAE Level 3, 4 or 5 autonomous technology
  • verifying the vehicles meet federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or have an exemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • certifying the manufacturer has conducted test and validation methods and is satisfied that the autonomous vehicles are safe for deployment on California public roads
  • developing a Law Enforcement Interaction Plan that provides information to law enforcement and other first responders on how to interact with the autonomous vehicles.

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