Legislature approves Wieckowski's autonomous vehicle bill

SB 570 updates California's vehicle code in recognition of advancements in autonomous technology

September 10, 2021

SACRAMENTO – Recognizing the advances in electric and autonomous vehicle technology, the California State Senate today approved a bill by Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to bring the state’s vehicle code into the 21st century. SB 570 passed the Assembly and Senate with bipartisan support. The bill will now go before Governor Gavin Newsom.

“The pace of innovation often moves faster than government can respond to it. That is the case with the progress we see with electric and autonomous vehicles,” said Sen. Wieckowski. “Our vehicle code requires every vehicle to have a muffler, effectively putting thousands of electric vehicles technically out of compliance. This bill eliminates that requirement for electric vehicles and also drops equipment requirements, such as windshield wipers, mirrors and speedometers, for exclusively autonomous vehicles that will not be operated by a human driver. These types of updates are overdue and will bring us more in-line with the innovations surrounding exclusively autonomous vehicles.”

All vehicles will still need to follow National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) standards unless offered an exemption by the NHSTA.

“Autonomous delivery vehicles have the potential to improve road safety, reduce vehicle emissions, and expand access to medicines and groceries for people with disabilities or who live in food deserts,” said David Estrada, chief legal and policy officer at Nuro. “Senator Wieckowski’s leadership on SB 570 will expand and accelerate these benefits in California.”

Bert Kaufman, head of corporate and regulatory affairs, at Zoox, also expressed his support for the bill.

“With SB 570, California has taken a small but mighty step forward to modernize its vehicle code, and to enable opportunities for more safety, sustainability, and mobility on our roadways. We are thankful for Senator Wieckowski’s vision and leadership on this effort,” Kaufman said.

In addition to Nuro and Zoox, SB 570 is also supported by Ralphs and the Coalition for Safe Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification (SAVE Coalition).