Governor signs Wieckowski's autonomous vehicle bill

September 30, 2021

SACRAMENTO – California vehicles that are exclusively autonomous will no longer need to be equipped with windshield wipers, speedometers, mirrors and other parts under a bill authored by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) and signed today by Governor Gavin Newsom. SB 570, which was approved with bipartisan support by the Legislature, brings the vehicle code equipment list into the 21st century.

“Autonomous vehicle technology is much more advanced today than the last time California significantly updated its laws governing vehicle equipment,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate’s Transportation Committee. “It is no longer necessary to have some of these parts on a vehicle that is exclusively autonomous and not driven by humans. By eliminating these requirements, SB 570 can help increase innovation in autonomous technology in California.

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

It has been almost a decade since California approved legislation authorizing the operation of autonomous vehicles in the state. Before SB 570, a company seeking a driverless testing and deployment permit would have its vehicle thoroughly inspected by the California Highway Patrol to determine if it complied with the California Vehicle Code equipment list. This meant vehicles exclusively operated by autonomous technology still required equipment such as windshield wipers, mirrors, speedometers and other parts found in vehicles driven by humans. 

SB 570 is supported by autonomous vehicle companies Nuro and Zoox, as well as the Coalition for Safe Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification (SAVE Coalition) and Ralphs.

“Building autonomous vehicles without any changes in vehicle design is like building a cell phone with a rotary dial,” said the SAVE Coalition, a group of companies building electric, autonomous vehicles with innovative designs to improve road safety and sustainability. “With SB 570, California has taken a step forward to modernize its vehicle code, helping create opportunities for innovation in the design of autonomous vehicles to improve road safety, reduce vehicle emissions, and expand access to medicines, groceries, and work for people with disabilities or who live in food deserts. We thank Governor Newsom and Senator Wieckowski for their leadership on advancing innovation in California.”

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th Senate District, which includes southern Alameda County and parts of Santa Clara County.