TRENTON, NJ –  NJ State Senator  Patrick J. Diegnan (D-Middlesex), wants the State to study the use of advanced autonomous vehicles.  Mr. Diegnan, who heads the Senate Transportation committee, is sponsoring a joint resolution to establish the “New Jersey Autonomous Vehicle Task Force.”  His proposal unanimously cleared the Senate Transportation Committee last week and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

“The engineering and development of autonomous vehicle technology is well-underway in a majority of other states” said Senator Diegnan. “By allowing the testing of autonomous vehicles on our roads, New Jersey would put itself on the same economic and technological playing field as those states.”

If adopted by the legislature, the resolution would establish an eight member committee  which will issue a report to the Governor and Legislature, and include recommendations on how New Jersey could safely integrate advanced autonomous vehicles on the highways, streets, and roads. The task force would also evaluate the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's safety standards,  study regulations and laws in other states concerning safety standards, and ultimately recommend whether the State should enact stricter safety standards.

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The bill applies to vehicles equipped with level of three, four, or five autonomous technology. According to standards defined by the SAE International, this includes:

Level 3: An Automated Driving System (ADS) on the vehicle can itself perform all aspects of the driving task under some circumstances. In those circumstances, the human  driver must be ready to take back control at any time when the ADS requests the  human driver to do so.  In all other circumstances, the human driver performs the  driving task.

Level 4: An Automated Driving System (ADS) on the vehicle can itself perform all driving tasks and monitor the driving environment – essentially, do all the driving – in certain circumstances.  The human need not pay attention in those circumstances.

Level 5: An Automated Driving System (ADS) on the vehicle can do all the driving in all  circumstances.  The human occupants are just passengers and need never be involved in driving.