The Massachusetts Automated Vehicles Working Group met July 13, 2017 at the State House to introduce, review and discuss several proposed legislative bills. This group will meet again in September to further discuss perspective these policies.

MassRobotics, under the direction of Paul Schmitt, our Automated Vehicles Director, has been convening the New England Automated Vehicle Consortium for close to a year. The consortium was formed in September 2016 with its mission to:

Bring together academia, industry and policy makers to discuss and share the latest developments, work together to advance the local industry and to share perspectives and network within this rapidly changing area.

The Consortium includes members of the automotive, start-up and component communities as well as representatives from academia and the government at the city, state, and federal levels. Discussion is regularly lively and engaging, and the group has covered a variety of topics including: Policies and Regulation, Promoting Automated Vehicle Technology Testing and Development, Data Sharing and Safety.

We are currently collecting the community’s thoughts and feedback on the recent proposed legislation so that we may pass it on to MassDOT and we would welcome your input.

Please let us know if you did not receive a copy of the proposed legislation. Unfortunately, it is not posted, but if interested, we can send you a copy – please contact

Meeting notes:

Sarah Zaphiris (Chief Administrative Officer, RMV), Jonathan Cosco (Sr. Deputy General Counsel, EOBED), Representative William Straus, Senator Thomas McGee, Katherine Fichter (MassDOT), Lt. Colonel Daniel Risteen (Mass State Police) not present, Lt. Daniel Griffin (Mass. State Police), Doug Levine (special counsel), Joseph Sabella (not present), Matthew Mincieli (Rep. Brad Jones office).

The agenda included Introduction and Welcome, New AV Working Group Designees, Proposed AV Legislation Presentations and Public Comment:

  1. Introduction and Welcome 10:00 am
  2. New AV Working Group Designees 10:05
  3. Representative William Straus – H1897 10:10
  4. Senator Jason Lewis – S1945 (H1829) 10:25
  5. Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier – H1829 (S1945) 10:40
  6. Representative Michael Day – H3417 10:55
  7. Representative Peter Durant – H1822 11:10
  8. Representative Aaron Michlewitz – H2742 11:25
  9. Senator Eric Lesser – S1938 (H3422) Invited
  10. Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante – H3422 (S1938) Invited

Overview of Legislation S1945
Presented by Senator Jason Lewis

  • Robin Chase has had input into the legislation.
  • Believes it creates a flexible framework.
  • Includes safety measures (software updates, failure alert systems). Includes requirement on data collection (so regulatory bodies have access to the data).
  • Encourages the vehicles to be zero emissions (acknowledges that this is probably a reach). “Clean tech is the future”. This is needed in the transportation sector.
  • Encourages AVs to be shared. Fleets of autonomous vehicles that are electric and shared (“FAVS”).
  • Includes a VMT fee structure due to loss of revenue that is feared to come with AVs. Base rate per mile driven. Discounts for multiple passengers. Discounts for off-peak.
  • Discount for areas that do not have public transportation. Discount for lower-income passengers.
  • Issues looking forward. Job loss due to AVs. Uses truck drivers as example.

House Bill 1829
Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier

  • “This is the most important piece of legislation for this legislative session. This is a dawn of a new era.”
  • One AV benefit to rural communities that have inadequate public transportation.
  • This bill promotes VMT (vehicle miles traveled) is needed in Massachusetts.
  • But posits that VMTs could be accomplished without legislation. “Everybody should pay their fair share for driving on the roads.”
  • Seeing a decrease in sales tax for automobiles due to increased shared vehicle use. Need a way to make up that revenue.
  • A foundation of policy is needed now since “Ubers and Lyfts” got ahead of us.


  1. Senator McGee notes the infrastructure is in bad shape. Question about the VMT numbers (fee per mile), where did they come from? What is the right number to get the infrastructure fixed? The approach to AV needs to include discussion on fixing the infrastructure. What is the plan for the gridlock, parking, etc.?
  • Wanted to choose a base number to start.
  • Bill includes 2.5 cents per mile is the base rate. Not meant to be a replacement for the gas.
  • This is why it is important to get this in place now, to trial it out, figure it out, get the pricing right, get the privacy rights figured out, get the public comfortable with this.
  1. Representative Bill Straus. Is a skeptic of VMT (administration of it, geographic equity issues). Concerned that the VMT treats all miles as equal, does not encourage efficiencies in fuel consumption. There is a concern of having government files on people’s data, where traveled, number of miles traveled, etc. Does not recommend going casually into VMT.
  • The bill includes options to include deductions for a more fuel efficient vehicle.
  • This is why we need the pilot to test out these issues.
  • We live in a world where data is collected about us all the time. This is a reality that we live with today.
  1. Lt. Daniel Griffin. Where did the number of jobs lost come from? Feels that this technology will also create jobs.
  2. Katherine Ficther. Notes that companies want to test in high income neighborhoods. How could we encourage lower level income areas?

H3417 Presentation
Presentation by Representative Michael Day
In summary this bill proposes that any AV should be zero emissions. London, Berlin, and France are ahead of Boston. The bill is only a few lines long. That is it.

Katherine Fichter notes that today MassDOT has two AV companies active on roads and they both use electric vehicles.

H1822 Presentation
Presentation by Peter Durant
Wanted to ensure that the liability was in place. So that OEMs are not held liable for modified vehicles that get into accidents.

Sarah Zaphiris. What is the timeframe do you think for AVs?

  • Difficult to say, but we are seeing systems like Adaptive Cruise Control already.

H2742 Presentation
Presentation by Aaron Michlewitz
This bill is aimed at safety on the road. Limit the number of passengers to 8, and goods/freight unless a human driver is present.

How is operator defined?

  • Commercially licensed operator.

S1938 Presentation
Senator Eric Lesser not present

H3422 Presentation
Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante not present

Public Comment

  • PowerHydrant gave a public comment.
  • Concern for accessibility for the elderly. Perhaps should there be a requirement on percentage of vehicles that facilitate the elderly.
  • Recommendation for the representatives to hold forums to raise public’s awareness.
  • Discussion on Connectivity. Doesn’t see legislative that addresses aspects of vehicles sharing data.
  • Presentation on RAND corporation studies. No safety metric. No clear way to test.

Katherine Fichter points

  • Recommend people from industry to present in September. Really feels that this perspective is needed. How do you get this technology to market?