Self-driving cars without drivers approved for testing in Contra Costa County

There was more news for self-driving autonomous car testing in California. Two more companies have been given licenses to test self-driving–Wheego and Valeo. Contra Costa county will be the home of the first self-driving cars to be legally driven without a human driver.

Self-driving cars without a human driver can now be tested at two facilities as long as the speed of the vehicles is not above 35 mph in Contra Costa county at two facilities.

Assemblywoman Bonilla’s AB 1592, which was signed by Governor Brown, will authorize the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) to test the first fully autonomous vehicle, not equipped with a steering wheel, brake pedal, accelerator or operator, on a California public road. The bill allows testing at the Go Momentum Station and San Ramon’s Bishop Ranch business park for shuttle buses.

This bill, which expands CCTA’s existing transportation technology testing program, will help advance the development of connected vehicle and autonomous vehicle technologies.

CCTA is currently testing autonomous vehicles at GoMentum Station, one of the world’s largest secure transportation proving grounds, located within the former United States Navy weapons station in Concord.  AB 1592 authorizes CCTA, to conduct a pilot project to test fully electric and autonomous, low-speed, multi-passenger, vehicles at GoMentum Station and a private business park in Contra Costa County.

The shared autonomous vehicles, referred to as people movers, have the potential to transform mobility as the first-and-last mile connectors to larger mass transit platforms.  Upon completion of the pilot project, the vehicles will be utilized to increase transit ridership, eliminate the need for expensive and space-consuming parking structures, reduce the use of single occupancy vehicles on the state’s congested roads and highways, while improving the safety, convenience, and efficiency of transportation.

Honda is currently testing autonomous vehicles at the Go Momentun Station.

The bill requires the authority or a private entity, or a combination of the 2, to obtain an instrument of insurance, surety bond, or proof of self-insurance in an amount of $5,000,000 prior to the start of testing of any autonomous vehicle on or across a public road and would require evidence of the insurance, surety bond, or proof of self-insurance to be provided to the Department of Motor Vehicles in the form and manner required by the department.

The bill requires the authority or a private entity, or a combination of the 2, to provide the department with a detailed description of the testing program, as specified. The bill require sthe operator of the autonomous vehicle technology to disclose what personal information concerning a pilot project participant is collected by an autonomous vehicle. The bill allows the department to require data collection for evaluating the safety of the vehicles, as provided.

Go Momentum Station is the former home of a US Naval station. The Concord Naval Weapons Station is best known for the Port Chicago disaster in 1944.