NHTSA, FMCSA Invite Input on Testing Vehicles with Automated Driving Systems

automated driving systems
Automated driving systems.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued advance notices of proposed rule-making on the removal of unnecessary regulatory barriers to the safe introduction of automated driving systems (ADS) vehicles in the U.S.

Both NHTSA and FMCSA said they are inviting public comments over the next two months to ensure that all potential approaches are fully considered, as the agencies move forward with these regulatory actions.

“One of the Department’s priorities is to prepare for the future by engaging with new technology while addressing legitimate public concerns about safety, security, and privacy, without hampering innovation,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao in a statement issued on Wednesday.

NHTSA’s ANPRM asks the public to submit comments on identifying and addressing regulatory barriers to the deployment of ADS vehicles that are posed by certain existing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).

The agency said it is also interested in public comment on the various approaches that could be used to measure compliance with the FMVSS for vehicles without conventional controls, including steering wheels and brake pedals. Public comments that are received during this stage will help provide advice for NHTSA’s path forward.

“Our mission is to protect Americans on our roads,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King. “As automated driving systems develop, NHTSA will continue to adapt to make sure the agency is equipped to ensure public safety while encouraging innovation.”

The FMCSA ANPRM seeks public comment on questions about several key regulatory areas, to better understand how changes to its rules can account for significant differences between human operators and ADS.

These questions focus on topics that include:

  • CDL endorsements
  • Cybersecurity
  • Distracted driving
  • Hours of service rules
  • Inspection
  • Maintenance
  • Medical qualifications
  • Repair
  • Requirements of human drivers
  • Roadside inspections
  • Safe driving

“FMCSA is hoping to receive feedback from commercial motor vehicle stakeholders and the motoring public on how the agency should adapt its regulations for the development of increased automated driving systems in large trucks and buses. We know that while many of these technologies are still in development, it is critical that we carefully examine how to make federal rules keep up with this advancing technology,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.

Both notices will have a 60-day comment period, which commences with the ANPRM’s formal publication in the Federal Register. The public is encouraged to submit comments to the Federal Register dockets.