SECTION 1. Chapter 90 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 19L the following new section:-
Section 19M. As used in this section the following words shall, unless the context requires otherwise, have the following meanings:--
“Autonomous mode,” active operation of a motor vehicle through the use of autonomous technology without the active control or monitoring of a human operator.
"Autonomous technology," technology installed on a motor vehicle that has the capability to drive the vehicle on which the technology is installed without the active control or monitoring by a human operator. The term excludes a motor vehicle enabled with active safety systems or driver assistance systems, including, without limitation, a system to provide electronic blind spot assistance, crash avoidance, emergency braking, parking assistance, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assistance, lane departure warning, or traffic jam and queuing assistant, or any system or equipment designed to enhance the safe operation of the vehicle by a human operator, unless any such system alone or in combination with other systems enables the vehicle on which the technology is installed to drive without the active control or monitoring by a human operator.
“Autonomous Vehicle,” any vehicle equipped with autonomous technology.
(a)An autonomous vehicle registered in this state must continue to meet all federal standards and regulations for motor vehicles. The vehicle shall:
(1) have a means to engage and disengage the autonomous technology which is easily accessible to the operator;
(2) have a means, inside the vehicle, to visually indicate when the vehicle is operating in autonomous mode;
(3) have a means to alert the operator of the vehicle if a technology failure affecting the ability of the vehicle to safely operate autonomously is detected while the vehicle is operating autonomously in order to indicate to the operator to take control of the vehicle, and, if the operator fails to assume control of the vehicle, to cause the vehicle to come to a complete stop; and
(4) be capable of being operated in compliance with the applicable traffic and motor vehicle laws of this state.
(b)Federal regulations promulgated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shall supersede this section when found to be in conflict with this section.
(c)Vehicles equipped with autonomous technology may be operated in autonomous mode on public roads in this state by employees, contractors, or other persons designated by manufacturers of autonomous technology who have received a certificate from the department certifying that the vehicle conforms to the requirements of subsection (a) for the purpose of testing the technology. For testing purposes, a human operator shall be present in the autonomous vehicle such that he or she has the ability to monitor the vehicle's performance and intervene, if necessary, unless the vehicle is being tested or demonstrated on a closed course. Prior to the start of testing in this state, the entity performing the testing must submit to the department an instrument of insurance, surety bond, or proof of self-insurance acceptable to the department in the amount of $5,000,000.
(d)The original manufacturer of a vehicle converted by a third party into an autonomous vehicle shall not be liable in, and shall have a defense to and be dismissed from, any legal action brought against the original manufacturer by any person injured due to an alleged vehicle defect caused by the conversion of the vehicle, or by equipment installed by the converter, unless the alleged defect was present in the vehicle as originally manufactured.
(e)Not later than June 30, 2017, the department shall submit a report to the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives, the senate and house chairs of the joint committee on transportation, and the clerks of the senate and house of representatives recommending additional legislative or regulatory action that may be required for the safe testing and operation of motor vehicles equipped with autonomous technology.
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