Autonomous & Self-Driving Vehicle News: California, Indiana & BMW

In autonomous and self-driving vehicle news are California, Indiana and BMW.

New AV Bills in CA

The Teamsters applauded the introduction of two bills in California that are part of the California Automotive Regulatory Standards (CARS) Package, a series of legislative measures that state lawmakers are prioritizing to regulate autonomous vehicles (AVs).

An assembly bill to be introduced at a later date will require a trained human operator behind the wheel of any AV weighing 10,000 or more lbs., and Senate Bill 915 (SB 915) would require AV companies obtain an approval through a local ordinance prior to starting operations in a given municipality. The assembly bill is substantively identical to AB 316, which was introduced by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) last session, and the local control bill was introduced by Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose).

Both bills already have broad support. AB 316 received yes votes from more than 90 percent of the legislature last session, and SB 915 is co-sponsored by the League of California Cities.

To date, AV regulation in California has been left exclusively to regulatory agencies, including the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), while municipalities continue to lack any control over AVs wreaking havoc on local streets. As a result, California remains without proper enforcement of AV safety measures or accountability.

California cannot afford to outsource the regulation of dangerous technology to Big Tech,” said Peter Finn, Teamsters Western Region International Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 856. “California must implement real AV safety standards and ensure local municipalities have a say in AV deployment, especially given the botched regulatory oversight by the DMV and CPUC. We applaud Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry and Senator Cortese for introducing legislation that is essential to keeping our roads safe.”

California’s deployment of AVs in 2023 is the perfect case study for what not to do. From Gov. Newsom’s veto of AB 316 — a bill that received resounding support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — to the CPUC and DMV, too many people in state government last year chose not to put safety first, and it showed,” said Jason Rabinowitz, President of Teamsters Joint Council 7. “Thanks to Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry and Senator Cortese, California has another shot to make things right and pass common sense safety measures to save lives and protect jobs.”

The DMV has failed to track at-fault data for collisions involving AVs for several years and driverless vehicles remain immune from receiving traffic tickets. Meanwhile, the CPUC, whose lead Commissioner John Reynolds formerly worked as legal counsel to AV company Cruise, ruled in favor of unlimited expansion of Cruise and Waymo robotaxis on San Francisco roads in August, despite widespread pushback from elected officials and public safety representatives. Cruise later suspended operations nationwide after an incident that left a pedestrian grievously injured. Cruise vehicles also collided with fire trucks, were accused of being responsible for the death of a patient after blocking an ambulance, impeded workers by getting stuck in concrete, blocked waste trucks, caused a massive traffic jam outside of a music festival, and triggered a 20-car pile up in a tunnel. Last year a Waymo robotaxi killed a dog as well.

In spite of the abysmal track record that robotaxis have in California, the DMV recently approved Waymo’s permit to expand into additional municipalities in the San Francisco and Los Angeles metro areas. The DMV approval also includes 24/7 access to freeways, highways, parking lots, and all other roads at speeds of up to 65 mph, even in inclement weather.

“Gov. Newsom can continue to cower to Big Tech and put millions of good jobs in jeopardy, or he can grow a backbone and stand up for working people. Either way, the Teamsters are not backing down from this fight,” said Lindsay Dougherty, Teamsters Western Region International Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 399. “The Teamsters encourage all state lawmakers to join Cortese and Aguiar-Curry in prioritizing the well-being of Californians and the preservation of good-paying union jobs.”

In addition to safety risks, AV technology also threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of hardworking Californians. In California, there are roughly 200,000 professional drivers. Accounting for the ripple effect of automating commercial driving nationally, AVs could eliminate more than 15 million jobs across the U.S. Many of these would be in rural communities.

“The reason that companies like Google and General Motors pour so much money into AVs is because they know they can increase profits by killing jobs through automation,” said Chris Griswold, President of Teamsters Joint Council 42. “Corporate America does not work in the best interest of Californians. This is why legislation that protects working people is so urgent. Many California lawmakers have already shown their support for AV regulation, but the Teamsters strongly urge all elected officials to stand up and stand with us to safeguard workers and our communities.”

Teamsters Support Indiana Bill

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters commended Indiana State Senator Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville) for introducing legislation, Senate Bill 57 (SB 57), that would require a trained human operator to be physically present in any commercial vehicle transporting passengers or delivering goods on Indiana roads. SB 57 already has significant bipartisan support in the state Senate, with backing from Sen. Vaneta Becker (R), Sen. Mike Bohacek (R), Sen. Gary Byrne (R), Sen. Shelli Yoder (D), and Sen Mark Messmer (R), as support for AV safety measures continues to grow across the state.

Given the critical importance of this issue, the Teamsters Union is calling on Senator Michael Crider, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, to commit to holding a legislative hearing on SB 57 during this legislative session.

“The Teamsters applaud Senator Tomes for introducing legislation that will help keep Indiana roads safe,” said Chuck Whobrey, President of Teamsters Local 215 and Vice President of Teamsters Joint Council 94. “Based on what we have seen over the past year in other states, we know that driverless vehicles are dangerous and do not belong on public roads. This bill sends a clear message to Big Tech that Hoosiers will not be their test subjects and that public safety is our priority. We are thankful to State Senator Tomes for putting forth this important bill and call on the Senate Transportation Committee to hold a legislative hearing on SB 57 in the coming year.”

The legislation comes as driverless vehicles have wreaked havoc on public roads across the country, causing accidents, blocking traffic, and interfering with first responders. A woman in San Francisco was seriously injured by a Cruise robotaxi after the vehicle struck and dragged her for 20 feet.

“Thousands of professional drivers in Indiana are responsible for safely transporting goods and keeping our economy moving. Their skills and training make them the best at what they do,” said Bob Warnock, President of Teamsters Local 364 and President of Teamsters Joint Council 69. “Deadly automated vehicles could kill their jobs and make it difficult for workers to support their families. With these vehicles on the road, the public is in danger. SB 57 will save lives and protect livelihoods, and the Teamsters urge the Transportation Committee to consider this commonsense legislation promptly.”

Hoosiers are understandably concerned about the dangers of driverless vehicles. In a poll conducted last year, more than 60 percent of Indiana residents said they would not be comfortable sharing the road with a small, driverless car; 75 percent would not be comfortable sharing the road with a driverless truck; and 83 percent would not be comfortable sharing the road with a semi-truck.

According to the poll, the presence of a human operator in a vehicle made Indiana residents feel significantly safer on the road.

“Hoosiers do not want to share the road with driverless vehicles because they know that the technology is not ready for primetime,” said Harvey Jackson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 142. “Given what we have seen around the country, it would be madness to put dangerous driverless vehicles on our streets and put our safety in jeopardy. We are grateful to Senator Tomes for proposing this commonsense measure that will keep human beings behind the wheel in Indiana.”

TuSimple Delists Nasdaq

TuSimple (Nasdaq: TSP) (the “Company”) announced its decision to voluntarily delist the Company’s common stock from The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC (“Nasdaq”) and to terminate the registration of its common stock with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). The decision to delist and deregister was made by a Special Committee (the “Special Committee”) of the Board of Directors (the “Board”) of the Company, comprised solely of independent directors.

The Company intends to file a Form 25 with the SEC to remove its Common Stock from listing on Nasdaq and to deregister its Common Stock under Section 12(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), on or about Jan. 29, 2024, and as a result, the Company expects that the last trading day of its Common Stock on Nasdaq will be on or about Feb. 7, 2024. The Company also expects to file a Form 15 with the SEC on or about Feb. 8, 2024, after which the Company will no longer have any reporting obligations under Sections 13(a) and 15(d) of the Exchange Act, including Forms 10-K, 10-Q, and 8-K.

Figure to Supply Robots to BMW

Figure, a California-based company developing autonomous humanoid robots, announced that it has signed a commercial agreement with BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC to deploy general purpose robots in automotive manufacturing environments.

Figure’s humanoid robots enable the automation of difficult, unsafe, or tedious tasks throughout the manufacturing process, which in turn allows employees to focus on skills and processes that cannot be automated, as well as continuous improvement in production efficiency and safety.

“Single-purpose robotics have saturated the commercial market for decades, but the potential of general purpose robotics is completely untapped. Figure’s robots will enable companies to increase productivity, reduce costs, and create a safer and more consistent environment,” said Brett Adcock, Founder and CEO of Figure. “We look forward to working side-by-side with BMW Manufacturing to integrate AI and robotics into automotive production.”

Under the agreement, BMW Manufacturing and Figure will pursue a milestone-based approach. In the first phase, Figure will identify initial use cases to apply the Figure robots in automotive production. Once the first phase has been completed, the Figure robots will begin staged deployment at BMW’s manufacturing facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Beyond the deployment of humanoid robots in an automotive manufacturing environment, BMW Manufacturing and Figure jointly will explore advanced technology topics such as artificial intelligence, robot control, manufacturing virtualization, and robot integration.