Delivery firm BoxBot is testing a self-driving, electric-powered vehicle in northern California for regional parcel firm OnTrac after the state issued BoxBot a permit to test the operation of an autonomous vehicle with an individual in the driver’s seat.
Separately, BoxBot has begun driving electric-powered, non-autonomous vehicles for OnTrac in the Oakland metropolitan area. Oakland-based BoxBot is working to fully electrify the vehicles it uses in California for OnTrac, whose eight-state territory encompasses 65 million people.
BoxBot and OnTrac began their initiative last fall with a pilot program in Oakland. The program was expanded in April when the state allowed testing of light-duty, autonomous vehicles. At the same time, BoxBot entered into a regional service provider agreement with OnTrac. OnTrac, based in Chandler, Arizona, relies on regional driver contractors across its territory to deliver its parcels.
Under California law, companies must be permitted to test autonomous delivery vehicles, and in almost all cases the tests must be conducted with a “safety driver” sitting behind the wheel. Under no circumstances can deliveries be made in the state using autonomous vehicles.
As of April, there were 62 companies with permits and 678 autonomous vehicles licensed with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Waymo was the first, and still is, the only company to win approval to test autonomous vehicles in California without a safety driver.