What permit(s) is the CPUC issuing today?

The CPUC is issuing Drivered Deployment permits to Cruise LLC and Waymo LLC. These permits allow for passenger service in autonomous vehicles (AVs) with a safety driver present in the vehicle. Cruise and Waymo are authorized to collect fares from passengers for this service and may offer shared rides.

Where and when may Drivered Deployment permittees operate?

Permittees may operate in a specific Operational Design Domain (ODD), which limits AV service to specific geographic constraints and operational conditions. Each DMV Deployment permit authorizes a specific ODD; carriers offering passenger service under a CPUC permit must adhere to the ODD approved by the DMV. 

As of today, Cruise’s ODD allows for Drivered Deployment service on selected public roads in San Francisco during the hours of 10pm to 6am at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Waymo’s ODD allows for Drivered Deployment service in designated parts of San Francisco and San Mateo counties at any time of day or night at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour.  

    What was the application process for these Drivered Deployment permits?

    CPUC regulations allow carriers currently holding a CPUC Drivered Pilot permit in good standing to request conversion of that permit into a Drivered Deployment permit. These carriers must present CPUC staff with a valid DMV Deployment permit and meet the requirements of the CPUC Drivered Deployment program as set forth in Decision (D.)20-11-046 (as modified by D.21-05-017).

    Cruise and Waymo requested conversion and presented CPUC staff with the required documents. CPUC staff performed a ministerial review and determined that both carriers meet the program requirements. Accordingly, staff have issued the converted permits.

    What are the anticipated next steps?

    As part of the CPUC’s broad mandate to protect passenger safety, staff continually seek information about safety and operations from participants in the Pilot and Deployment programs. Staff have identified passenger pickup and drop-off events as a critical nexus of many safety and accessibility issues applicable to AV passengers and all road users. Accordingly, staff will work with carriers to better understand how AVs approach these events. Staff will also continue collecting quarterly reporting data from pilot participants and begin collecting expanded quarterly data from deployment participants, as outlined in Appendix A of D.20-11-046. Future public workshops are anticipated to review the state of the Phase I AV Deployment programs.

    How does the Drivered Deployment program compare to other CPUC AV programs?

    The Drivered Deployment program is distinct in that it allows for fare collection and shared rides and requires a safety driver to be present in the vehicle.

    The CPUC offers four AV passenger service programs. Carriers may participate in one or more of the following:

    • Drivered Pilot: Passenger service on a test basis for carriers that hold a California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Autonomous Vehicle Testing permit. Safety driver must be present in the vehicle. No fare collection permitted. No shared rides (between passengers of different parties) permitted.
    • Driverless Pilot: Passenger service on a test basis for carriers that hold a DMV Autonomous Vehicle Driverless Testing permit. No safety driver required. No fare collection permitted. No shared rides permitted.
    • Drivered Deployment: Passenger service on a deployment basis for carriers that hold a DMV Autonomous Vehicle Deployment permit. Safety driver must be present in the vehicle. Fare collection is permitted. Shared rides are permitted.
    • Driverless Deployment: Passenger service on a deployment basis for carriers that hold a DMV Autonomous Vehicle Deployment permit. No safety driver required in the vehicle. Fare collection is permitted. Shared rides may be permitted.

    Are there any Driverless AV passenger services currently authorized by the CPUC?

    Currently, Cruise LLC holds a Driverless Pilot permit. This permit allows Cruise to provide passenger service on a test basis in an AV without a safety driver present, without collecting fares.

    On November 5, 2021, Cruise submitted a Tier 3 advice letter applying for a Driverless Deployment permit. Disposition of this advice letter is currently pending.

    There are no other active participants in either the Driverless Pilot or Driverless Deployment programs.

    What is the CPUC’s role in regulating AVs?

    The CPUC regulates the use of AVs in providing passenger service anywhere in California. It does so through the permitting processes for the programs, data collection and analysis, and potential investigative or enforcement actions. Policies and regulations are developed with input from stakeholders in CPUC Rulemaking 12-12-011.

    The CPUC has adopted specific goals for the AV programs: 1) protect passenger safety, 2) expand the benefits of AV technologies to all Californians, including people with disabilities, 3) Improve transportation options for all, particularly for disadvantaged communities and low-income communities, and 4) reduce greenhouse gas emissions, criteria air pollutants, and toxic air contaminants, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

    How may the public track the progress of the CPUC’s AV programs?

    The CPUC requires quarterly reports from Pilot and Deployment permittees. They are posted publicly on the CPUC’s website. AV policy and regulatory issues are addressed in Rulemaking 12-12-011. You may sign up for updates through the CPUC’s subscription service or by requesting to be added to the service list. We encourage input from stakeholders as the AV programs develop; the Public Advisor’s Office can assist if you would like to become a party to the proceeding.

    Where can I learn more about the CPUC’s AV programs?

    Our website provides additional information on our AV programs.

    You may also review the CPUC decisions that created the Pilot and Deployment programs, which describe the requirements and processes for each program. Decision (D.)18-05-043 authorized the Drivered and Driverless AV Pilot programs. D.20-11-046 (as modified by D.21-05-017) authorized the Phase I Drivered and Driverless AV Deployment programs. AV issues are currently addressed in Rulemaking 12-12-011.

    Where can I learn more about the CPUC’s AV permitting process?

    The AV Application Guidance document contains information the application processes for the various CPUC AV programs.

    Who can I contact for additional questions?

    AV Programs staff can be reached at AVPrograms@cpuc.ca.gov.