For Immediate Release - October 20, 2016

Governor Baker Signs Executive Order to Promote the Testing and Deployment of Automated Vehicles

BOSTON –  Governor Charlie Baker today signed Executive Order 572, “To Promote the Testing and Deployment of Highly Automated Driving Technologies.” The Executive Order recognizes recent innovations in sensing and computing technology which have resulted in the rapid advancement of motor vehicle automation and creates a special working group on autonomous vehicles (AV) comprised of the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Public Safety, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, Registrar of Motor Vehicles, Highway Administrator, and four members designated by the Senate President, Speaker of the House, Senate Minority Leader, and House Minority Leader. 

The group, to be called the “The AV Working Group,” is to consult and convene with experts on motor vehicle safety and vehicle automation, collaborate with members of the Massachusetts Legislature on proposed legislation, and support “Memorandum of Understanding” agreements which companies will need to enter into with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and affected municipalities or state agencies when plans are proposed for conducting testing of self-driving vehicles in Massachusetts.

The Memorandum of Understanding is to include a process for companies to follow in order to obtain approval from MassDOT for testing.  The process will include submitting an application which demonstrates the vehicle to be tested has passed a Registry of Motor Vehicles inspection, can be operated without undue risk to public safety, and at all times will have a human being inside the vehicle while it is traveling.

“The Commonwealth is home to many world-class innovation companies and academic institutions intimately involved in autonomous vehicle technology, which makes Massachusetts uniquely qualified to responsibly host this emerging field to foster innovation and economic growth,” said Governor Baker. “The guidance the AV Working Group provides will be instrumental in ensuring companies can further develop autonomous vehicle technology in the Commonwealth and do so while maintaining the safety of our roadways.”

“Executive Order 572 embraces an innovative technology that has the potential to create jobs across Massachusetts,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We look forward to working with the developers, municipalities, the City of Boston, neighboring state and our federal partners to host and develop autonomous vehicle technology responsibly and effectively.”

Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack added that the AV Working Group’s goal will be to help advance innovation in autonomous vehicle technologies while ensuring that testing is conducted safely.  “Public safety will be our top priority,” Secretary Pollack said.  “As we collaborate with municipal and private sector partners, the Memorandum of Understanding will enable safe testing with people ready to take the wheel on pre-approved routes.”

“There is no doubt that autonomous vehicle technology will play a large part in the future of transportation,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Dan Bennett. “By taking proactive steps such as this Executive Order we will be more fully prepared to take advantage of these advances in technology in ways that are as safe and efficient as they can be.”

“Massachusetts is pioneering the new technologies that are enabling autonomous vehicles, including robotics, artificial intelligence, advanced materials, and internet-enabled sensors,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “This executive order will allow Massachusetts to harness autonomous vehicle technology as a driver of economic development, by increasing investment in research and development, creating a predictable legal framework for autonomous vehicle developers, and positioning Massachusetts companies to fill key supply chain roles in this rapidly growing industry.”

"Autonomous vehicles have the incredible promise to deliver safer streets and a more equitable, reliable, and sustainable transportation system, but that will only occur with the right technology and right policies in place," said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.  "For that reason, Boston is ready to lead the charge on self-driving vehicles, supporting the development of the technology and policies that ensure this innovation will benefit all of our residents."

Mayor Martin J. Walsh signed and announced his own executive order today that establishes that the Boston Transportation Commissioner, Gina Fiandaca, will lead oversight of autonomous vehicles in the City of Boston, and the Boston Transportation Department (BTD), in coordination with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM), will publish guidelines for the testing of autonomous vehicles. In addition, the BTD, with support from the MONUM, will publish policy recommendations with respect to autonomous vehicle technology, business models and supportive changes concerning the use of the public right of way.