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S.F. No. 2173 - Highly Automated Vehicle Testing (As Amended)
Author: Senator Scott J. Newman
Prepared By: Alexis C. Stangl, Senate Counsel (651/296-4397)
Date: March 15, 2019


Sections 1 through 5 provide definitions of “automated driving system;” “federal motor vehicle safety standards automated vehicle exemption;” “highly automated vehicle;” “minimal risk condition;” and “operator.”

Section 6.  Autonomous vehicle operators.  For purposes of state law, an operator of an autonomous vehicle has the same responsibility, and is subject to the same penalties, as the driver of a vehicle.

Section 7.  Automated vehicle testing. This section allows a person to obtain a permit to engage an automated driving systems or to test a highly automated vehicle in the state.

Subdivision 1.  Definitions.  The definitions of chapter 169 apply to this section.

Subdivision 2.  License and vehicle registration requirements.  A license is required to operate a motor vehicle unless the highly automated vehicle does not have the ability to be operated by a human. Commercial vehicles must have a human operator present to immediately assume control of the vehicle. A highly automated vehicle must be registered in accordance with vehicle registration laws.

Subdivision 3.  Permit to test.  A person may apply to the commissioner of transportation to test a highly automated vehicle on private property. The commissioner may grant or deny the permit application. An application for a permit must include the specified information. A permit is valid for one year. Before granting a permit, the commissioner must consult with the commissioner of public safety. If the commissioner of public safety notifies the commissioner of an identifiable public safety risk, the commissioner must not approve the permit.  If the commissioner denies a permit, the commissioner must notify, in writing, the applicant and the commissioner of public safety.  The commissioner must approve or deny an applicaiton within 60 days.

Subdivision 4.  Restrictions.  A highly automated vehicle may be tested with the automated driving system engaged and without a person being present if certain restrictions are satisfied.

Subdivision 5.  Collision reporting and data.  In the event of a collision, the driver, operator, or owner of a highly automated vehicle must promptly contact law enforcement to report the accident. The driver or operator and the vehicle must remain at the scene of the collision and comply with reporting requirements. If there is no person present in the vehicle, the operator must make reasonable efforts to contact law enforcement. The operator must submit information on whether the automated driving system was engaged at the time of the collision.

Subdivision 6.  Compliance with laws; misdemeanor; public safety. Testing a highly automated vehicle without a permit is a misdemeanor. Upon issuing a citation, law enforcement may impound or immobilize the vehicle. The commissioner of public safety or transportation may immediately prohibit testing of a highly automated vehicle if it poses a risk to public safety or fails to comply with the permit conditions.

Subdivision 7. Data; reporting.  Data relating to highly automated vehicles is governed by the data practices act. The tester must meet with the commissioner and the Minnesota Council on Disabilities to discuss lessons learned and best practices. The commissioner must annually submit a report to the legislature on highly automated vehicle testing.

Subdivision 8.  Uniform law.  Highly automated vehicles and automated driving systems are governed solely by this section. No rule or regulation on operating highly automated vehicles or automated driving systems can be adopted which limits the authority to use this technology. A local government may enforce local parking, traffic, and land use ordinances.


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