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Jake Levine is a member of the firm’s Public Policy Practice Group, and its Clean Energy and Climate Industry Group. Mr. Levine advises clients on a variety of public policy, legislative, regulatory, and business matters related to clean energy, climate, water, transportation, and technology.

On April 6th, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a Proposed Decision authorizing pilot testing for autonomous vehicles (AVs) in California. This action follows up on the California DMV’s permitting rules for AVs in California, which would have allowed driverless testing and deployment permits to issue as early as April 2 of this year. The DMV’s action was big news when it broke at the end of February; it meant that AVs could be deployed without any human in the vehicle. Now, the CPUC has proposed a pilot to allow the use of driverless test vehicles with passengers inside as soon as this summer.

While shared and electric mobility has already been deployed at scale, the road ahead for autonomy is still evolving. California is working to tackle this third pillar, and prior to the CPUC’s Proposed Decision, companies like Uber and GM Cruise had urged the Commission to move forward to enable the use of AVs for passenger transportation under existing regulatory frameworks. Lyft encouraged the Commission to address AVs in a rulemaking, noting that it “ma[de] little sense” to wait for Congress to act, or to “scramble” to regulate after AVs are already deployed en masse.

But now that the Proposed Decision has been published, stakeholders need to make sense of it.


Continue Reading IoT Update: Will California’s New Autonomous Vehicles Regulations Provide a Roadmap for a National Regulatory Framework on Driverless Cars?

On December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) voted along party lines to adopt a 210-page Declaratory Ruling, Report and Order, and Order (the “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” or “Order”) geared towards overhauling the net neutrality framework established during the Obama administration in 2015 (the “2015 Order”).  On February 22nd, the Order was officially published in the Federal Register — kicking off the period for filing of court challenges to the FCC’s decision and for efforts by Democrats in Congress to signal dissent through passing a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act.

Against the backdrop of these actions at the federal level, for the past few months several states have taken matters into their own hands and begun proposing their own ways to restore the 2015 Order’s net neutrality rules within their borders.  Such efforts, even if successful at the state level, will likely be met in the courts by the Restoring Internet Freedom Order’s explicit statement that the Order preempts all “inconsistent state and local regulations.” 
Continue Reading States Battle to Resurrect Net Neutrality Rules

At the start of 2018, we find ourselves in the midst of an autonomous vehicles revolution.  In the private sector, leading, and some nascent, autonomous mobility innovators have forged ahead with a surge of investment.  Last year, The Brookings Institution found that during a snapshot between 2014 and 2017, more than 160 investments worth more than $80 billion went toward the auto electronics, microchips, sensors, artificial intelligence and deep learning, digital mapping, ridesharing, physical systems, and other software needed to power autonomous mobility.

Some of the transactions were large (e.g., GM acquired Cruise Automation for $1 billion); many others registered relatively smaller blips on the radar (e.g., NVIDIA’s $5.25 million investment in Optimus Ride, or Ford’s $6.6 million investment in Civil Maps).  But the volume — and the acceleration of investment beginning in 2016 — speaks to a general dynamism in the autonomous mobility space.
Continue Reading Covington Internet of Things Update: Off to the races – How will policy shape autonomous vehicles tech in 2018?