Chorus grows in opposition of California's proposed driverless truck ban

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Updated Jul 10, 2023

A growing group of associated business and industries are joining the chorus echoing opposition to a ban on driverless trucks in California. 

The California Senate Transportation Committee will hold a hearing this week on AB 316, a bill that would effectively ban autonomous trucks in the state. California Assembly Bill 316, legislation that requires a trained human operator in autonomous vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds, passed the California State Assembly last month. 

A group of 65 California businesses, developers of autonomous vehicles (AVs) and other downstream beneficiaries of AV trucks sent a letter Wednesday to the Senate urging them to reject AB 316.

"California was among the first states to adopt a comprehensive legislative framework for AV testing and deployment over a decade ago. AV technology has since been tested and deployed in states across the country and across modalities, and it maintains an incredible safety record. Other states have taken notice, and now, a majority of U.S. states have recognized the numerous benefits of AVs by authorizing AV deployment, including deployment of autonomous trucks," reads the letter co-signed by the likes of Aurora, Daimler Truck, Gatik, Kodiak Robotics, Navistar, Plus, Torc Robotics, U.S. Xpress, Volvo Autonomous Solutions and Waymo, among other trucking industry stakeholders. 

Requiring a human driver to remain in AVs that weigh 10,000 pounds or more would deviate from the overwhelming majority of states’ approaches to AV regulation and California would stand alone as the only state to single out autonomous trucks and bar them from effectively deploying in the state.

The California Business Properties Association sent a similar letter in late June, saying the bill "would exacerbate gridlock across our supply chain. There is already a shortage of nearly 80,000 truck drivers, and it is only predicted to get worse, doubling by 2030. Allowing autonomous commercial semi-trucks will help move more goods quickly and reliably."

"Autonomous heavy-duty vehicles that operate in interstate commerce will fundamentally change the manner and speed in which goods move in our country while making roads safer for everyone. Autonomous long-haul trucking has the potential to broadly benefit the economy by improving the efficiency of countless industries that rely on moving goods on trucks, including agriculture, retail, and manufacturing," reads a letter penned and c-signed by California Business Properties Association; BOMA California; NAIOP California; CA Business Roundtable; BizFed; and the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International. 

Autonomous heavy-duty vehicles will make our supply chain more efficient as trucker shortages are filled and autonomous commercial semi-trucks can drive for longer, safer trips. For the above reasons, we strongly urge you to oppose AB 316.