NHTSA Seeks Additional Input for Development of a Framework for Automated Driving System (ADS) Safety
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in the December 3, 2020 Federal Register (F.R. Vol. 85 No. 233; [Docket No. NHTSA–2020-0106]). The ANPRM addresses a framework that would objectively define, assess, and manage the safety of Automated Driving Systems (ADSs), while ensuring the needed flexibility to enable additional innovation.
ADS can aid in achieving NHTSA's mission to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce economic costs due to road traffic crashes by their potential to prevent, reduce, or mitigate crashes involving human error or poor choices. Additionally, ADSs have the potential to enhance accessibility (e.g., through allowing personal transportation to people with disabilities or people incapable of driving), and improve productivity (e.g., by allowing people to work while being transported).
Historically, NHTSA's regulatory notices on ADS equipped vehicles without traditional manual controls have dealt with assessing modifications to current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that may be necessary to address the designs and any unique safety needs of ADS vehicles. However, with input from stakeholders, it is not too early to begin identifying and developing the elements of a framework that meets the need for motor vehicle safety and assess the degree of success in manufacturers' efforts to ensure safety, while also providing sufficient flexibility for new and more effective safety innovations.
NHTSA seeks to develop a safety framework of standards and/or guidance that manufacturers of ADS would (or, in the case of guidance, could) follow to evaluate and demonstrate the safety of their new systems, as produced and at least in some cases, throughout the lifetime of those systems. ADS equipped vehicles are unique in that the vehicle systems must also be able to perform appropriately the following safety relevant functions that are inherent to the adequate functionality of an ADS equipped vehicle:
- Sensing - How ADSs receives information
- Perception - How ADSs detect and categorize other road users, infrastructure and conditions
- Planning - How ADSs analyzes the situation, plans the route and makes decisions
- Control - How the ADS executes the driving functions through interaction with other parts of the vehicle.
NHTSA is looking for input on how to select and design a framework and administrative mechanisms to achieve the goals of improving safety, mitigating risk, and enabling the development and introduction of new safety innovations. NHTSA is interested in what manufacturers will need to prove for their own purposes. The NHTSA wishes to know which aspects would be so important that they should be subject to separate Federal regulations and what the public thinks on whether ADS-specific regulations are appropriate or necessary prior to the broad commercial deployment of the technology. How can regulations be developed consistent with the NHTSA’s legal obligations without being based upon the existence of commercially available ADS technology to measure required performance?
Until now, NHTSA’s ADS related publications have been addressing the challenges of determining which requirements of current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) are relevant to the safety needs of ADS equipped vehicles without traditional manual controls. Although the establishment of an FMVSS for ADS may be premature, NHTSA are beginning to consider how they may properly use its regulatory authority to encourage a focus on safety as ADS technology continues to develop. NHTSA also asks whether it has an appropriate role to play with any or all of the elements mentioned that are outside of research. If so, should NHTSA's role be regulatory or sub-regulatory, and in what manner?
In addition to questions and requests for comments throughout the ANPRM, there is a section V. Questions and Requests, with the following breakdown:
- A. 13 Questions about a Safety Framework 1-13
- B. 1 Question about NHTSA Research 14
- C. 7 Questions about Administrative Mechanisms 15-21
- D. 4 Questions about Statutory Authority 22-25
Comments regarding this ANPRM are due by February 1, 2021.
The ANPRM is available on InterRegs.NET for our US Federal subscribers and is also available at www.selectregs.com.