California Alliance for Freight Innovation
The members of the California Alliance for Freight Innovation (CAFI) are dedicated to bringing the latest in innovation to transform how freight is moved into, across and through the Golden State, benefiting businesses and consumers.
CAFI works with California lawmakers, regulators, and the public to foster innovation and advancement in freight transportation and promote the safe testing and deployment of autonomous trucks and heavy-duty vehicles.
Our diverse group of autonomous truck developers, carriers, shippers, original equipment manufacturers, ecosystem partners, and trade groups share an interest in the significant and diverse benefits presented by autonomous truck technology.
Autonomous Trucking in California
What are the benefits of autonomous trucking?
In the coming years, autonomous trucks will fundamentally change the manner and speed in which goods move in our country while making roads safer for everyone. This technology also presents an array of environmental benefits, including greater fuel efficiency, more efficient use of physical infrastructure, reduced congestion, and reduced agricultural spoilage and related preservation of soil and water resources.
Moreover, 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, such as agriculture, retail, and manufacturing.
One study found that autonomous long-haul trucks will grow California’s economy upwards of $6.5 billion or more:
• Increase real GDP and welfare in California by up to 0.35 percent annually,
• Increase output of the “for-hire” trucking industry by 4 percent,
• Increase California’s total employment by approximately 2,400 jobs, and
• Avoid layoffs of California’s truck drivers.
According to a recent study funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration, automating long-haul trucking will
• spur $111 billion in aggregate investment spending across the U.S. economy,
• increase total U.S. employment by 26,400 to 35,100 jobs per year on average, and
• raise annual earnings for all U.S. workers by more than $200 per worker per year.
The technology also has the capacity to improve the quality of life, productivity and safety for the most valuable resources in the supply chain—the truck drivers who make everything possible and will continue to be a necessary part of the supply chain with any deployment of this technology.
Without quick action, California risks falling behind.
How can California policymakers facilitate these benefits?
In 2012, the California Legislature directed the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) under CVC § 38750 to adopt regulations by January 1, 2015 allowing for the testing and deployment of any vehicle equipped with autonomous technology. Nevertheless, nearly a decade later, the DMV has yet to adopt regulations allowing for the testing and deployment of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 or more pounds. As a result, autonomous Class 8 trucks are currently excluded from the California DMV’s autonomous vehicle programs and are therefore unable to test or deploy above SAE Level 2 within the state.
Given the near-term deployment timelines of this technology–with some companies estimating driverless deployment in the next two to five years–we urge the DMV to facilitate the development of this technology by acting to initiate and enact rules to permit Class 8 autonomous truck testing and deployment as required under existing law. Commencing this rulemaking is the necessary first step toward providing the broad and diverse benefits of long-haul automation to all Californians.
When the DMV does initiate the rulemaking, it will have the opportunity to leverage stakeholder expertise on how autonomous trucking can be deployed in a way that maximizes safety and economic benefits. Beginning this discourse will reestablish California’s leadership in thoughtful regulation of autonomous vehicles and enable the state’s supply chain, road users, and broader transportation system to reap the benefits of this technology.
Is there a need for legislation?
There is no need for further legislation at this time. However, the Legislature should encourage the Newsom administration to initiate the DMV rulemaking required under CVC § 38750.
Are other states testing autonomous trucks?
Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Nevada, Colorado, Florida and other states have clear testing and deployment regulations for autonomous trucks.
Autonomous Trucks in the News
If you're interested in joining our efforts, reach out to info [@] cafreightinnovation [dot] org