California will require all light-duty autonomous vehicles (AV) to emit zero emissions starting in 2030. On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill sponsored by environmental groups that would eventually prohibit gas- and hybrid-powered autonomous vehicles from operating in the state.
From an article in The Verge by Andrew J. Hawkins.
California is the largest vehicle market in the US, with nearly 15 million registered vehicles on the road. AVs only account for a small fraction of that total amount, but some experts predict those numbers will grow as AVs become more capable and companies move to commercialize their use. Other groups have expressed worry that autonomous vehicles could usher in an era of even more traffic and pollution, especially if AVs are priced cheaper than public transportation.
California is ground zero for AV testing in the US, with over 50 companies licensed to operate autonomous vehicles for testing purposes in the state. A handful of companies hold permits to test fully driverless vehicles, without safety drivers behind the steering wheel. And an even smaller number have been approved to pick up and drop off passengers as part of a commercial robotaxi service. AVs registered in California traveled approximately 1.99 million miles in autonomous mode on public roads in 2020.
The two companies that comprise the bulk of that testing, Alphabet’s Waymo and GM-backed Cruise, both operate fully electric vehicles as part of their fleets. Waymo uses the Jaguar I-Pace SUV, as well as the non-electric Chrysler Pacifica minivan, though the company has declined to say exactly how many of each vehicle it owns. Cruise exclusively uses the Chevy Bolt, a vehicle that is currently subject to a massive recall because some of the batteries have been catching fire.
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