Each permit is essentially a different tier for an autonomous vehicle. The vehicle’s tier depends on how far along the development of that car is and the financial resources of the manufacturer.
Testing with a driver
The first permit is part of the Autonomous Vehicle Tester (AVT) Program. This program requires a human driver who can take control of the vehicle at any moment.
"Testing with a Driver" is the only permit that has an electronic system to transfer files and no application fee. Out of the three, this permit is the easiest to obtain, but there are still a lot of requirements that have to be met to qualify for it.
There is a $3,600 non-refundable annual fee for this permit, and it only covers a certain amount of vehicles and drivers. If a manufacturer wants to have more drivers and vehicles, there’s an additional fee for that.
The process of getting this permit takes more time and is a little more difficult because all required documents must be mailed.
To get the "Deployment" permit, manufacturers have to pay an annual, nonrefundable application fee of $3,275. The documentation for this permit can be emailed or mailed which makes the application process easier and more efficient.
However, this permit has an application checklist with stricter requirements than the other two, including a "description of any commonly-occurring or restricted conditions" and "how the vehicle is designed to react when it is outside of its operation design domain" and so on.
Who is the only permit holder in the "Deployment" phase?
The number of manufacturers holding these permits go from 54 for the "Testing with a Driver" permit, to eight for the "Driverless Testing" permit, to one for the "Deployment" permit.
Nuro is the only company to have gotten the "Deployment" permit. It is a brand most people haven’t heard about, and part of that could be because of its deployment being restricted to only a few areas in California.
Nuro’s vehicles do not hold passengers. Nuro’s purpose is to simply deliver packages, and that’s what made it easier for them to get this permit.
Even though Nuro isn’t a household name, it’s a big deal in the car and tech community because it’s the first and only autonomous vehicle to operate on public streets. And because of that, you could say that this one little vehicle was the one to rule them all… at least for now.
Serena has a BA in Honors English Literature from California State University, Northridge. She has worked as an editor and writer for several years and has had various forms of content published in magazines, websites, anthologies, and more. Serena calls herself a modern "Renaissance woman" since she has a hunger for learning and strives to succeed in many fields. During her free time Serena enjoys acting, singing off-key to songs in the car, and working on her novel.