The FMCSA issues a Request for Comments to Identify Regulatory Barriers to Introducing Automated Driving Systems on Commercial Motor Vehicles in Interstate Commerce
On March 26, 2018 in Federal Register Vol. 83 Number 58 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a Request for Comment (RFC) in Docket No. FMCSA-2018-0037). The RFC is focused on Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) which may need to be updated, modified, or eliminated to allow the safe testing and deployment of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) equipped with automated driving systems (ADS) on public roads. Prior to this RFC, FMCSA commissioned the U.S. Department of Transportation's John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe) to conduct a preliminary review of the FMCSRs to identify regulations that may relate to the development and safe introduction of ADS. The Volpe report is titled "Review of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for Automated Commercial Vehicles: Preliminary Assessment of Interpretation and Enforcement Challenges, Questions, and Gaps," number MCSA-RRT-17-013, August 2017.
The FMCSA is responsible for the safety oversight of motor carriers operating CMVs in interstate commerce, the drivers of CMVs and the vehicles. CMVs as defined in 49 CFR 390.5, include:
- Vehicles with gross vehicle weight (GVW)/gross combination weight (GCW) of 10,001 lb or more
- Passenger-carrying vehicles designed or used to transport 9 to 15 passengers for direct compensation
- Passenger-carrying vehicles designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers
- Any size vehicle transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards
If regulation is required to allow the operation of a commercial motor vehicle without a person in the driver's seat, the FMCSA has authority to grant waivers for up to three months, grant exemptions for up to five years (with the possibility of renewals of the exemptions), or allow pilot programs for up to three years, provided certain conditions are satisfied (49 CFR Part 38).
Specifically, the FMCSA is seeking comments on the Volpe report and information about:
- Scenarios and environments where entities expect that ADS will soon be tested and integrated into CMVs operating on public roads or in interstate commerce
- Operational Design Domains (ODD) in which these systems are being operated or would be tested and eventually deployed
- Measures believed to be required to ensure the protection of any proprietary or confidential business information that is shared with the FMCSA
Some specific questions raised are:
Inspection, Repair and Maintenance
- Should there be minimum requirements for motor carrier personnel responsible for maintaining the equipment used to achieve certain levels of automated operations?
- What information technology (IT) security/safety assurances can be provided by maintenance personnel and CMV drivers/operators that the ADS are functioning properly?
- What types of malfunctions or damage on an ADS equipped CMV should be considered an imminent hazard?
Roadside and Annual Inspections
- How could an enforcement official identify CMVs capable of various levels of automated operation?
- Would making these vehicles so easily identifiable cause other road users to interact unfavorably with CMVs with ADS?
Distracted Driving and Driver Monitoring
- For a level 3 human-monitored ADS, what changes, if any, should be made to the distracted driving regulations for human drivers of CMVs with ADS while in automated mode?
- Should a human driver in a CMV with ADS be allowed to use a handheld wireless phone while the ADS is in complete control of the vehicle?
- Should driver fatigue monitoring be required, and what method(s) should be used to conduct such monitoring?
- Should these systems be required to provide "alertness assistance" to human drivers?
- Should these systems be required to periodically request input from human drivers, or should they be required to request input from human drivers only when the driver appears to be losing focus or when the ADS in control of the vehicle is confronted with situations outside its parameters?
- What level or length of time of human driver inattentiveness should be allowed in a vehicle controlled by an ADS before the vehicle is required to enter its minimal risk condition?
- How long and what requirements need to be met after entering the minimal risk condition must a human driver wait to re-engage an ADS?
- FMCSA's regulations include physical qualification standards for humans driving CMVs to ensure that they are medically qualified to do so. What medical conditions currently precluding issuance of a medical card could become inapplicable as ADS technology develops?
- What medical conditions currently precluding issuance of a medical card should NOT be considered disqualifying for a human driver who is simply monitoring a CMV with ADS?
Hours of Service for Drivers
- Current regulations require that all time spent at the operating controls of the CMV be recorded as on-duty, driving time. FMCSA seeks public comments on how drivers' hours of service should be recorded if the ADS is relied upon to perform some or all of the driving tasks.
Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Endorsements
- Due to potential variations in ADS technology across various providers, FMCSA seeks to ensure that human drivers and operators of CMVs with ADS receive training for the specific technologies present in the vehicles they operate. Should an endorsement be considered for human drivers and operators of CMVs with ADS to ensure they (1) understand the capabilities and limitations of the advanced technologies, and (2) know when it is appropriate to rely on automatic rather than manual operation? What types of tests (knowledge, skills, or both) should be required to obtain such an endorsement; and should there be separate endorsements for different types of ADS?
- If an ADS equipped CMV is to be deployed without a human driver onboard, should the computer system be required to demonstrate autonomous capabilities for the same maneuvers included on the CDL skills test?
- If you are a developer or tester of ADS technologies, what types of data and/or safety measures do you currently or plan to collect during testing How often is this data collected?
- How can FMCSA ensure that data and/or safety measures collected are presented in a comparable format?
- How can FMCSA assess whether a CMV equipped with an ADS is being operated as safely as a traditional CMV operating on a public roadway?
- What pieces of information are entities using to evaluate how a driver is using an ADS equipped commercial vehicle?
Testing and Interstate Operations of CMVs with ADS on Public Roadways
- What type of ADS equipped CMVs are currently being tested? Are they Level 4 ADS equipped vehicles that can only operate on certain roadways, Level 4 vehicles with more extensive ODDs, or full Level 5 vehicles?
- Do vehicles currently being tested have operational limitations to ensure safe operations? Examples of operational limitations might include time of day, weather conditions, types of roads, specific routes within an ODD, maximum allowable operational speed, markings showing that the vehicle is capable of highly automated operations, etc. In moving forward what actions, if any, should FMCSA consider to ensure the safe operation of ADS equipped CMV's in various ODDs?
- How can FMCSA assess whether a CMV with ADS operating within its ODD can perform on certain maneuvers, such as emergency brake performance, crash avoidance maneuvers, etc.?
- Should FMCSA consider approaching CMVs that carry persons or hazardous materials differently than other CMVs?
- For State representatives, would you consider changing certain requirements (for example, higher versus lower levels of insurance) for an ADS equipped CMV? If yes, based on what factors; and how would you implement such requirements?
Beyond Compliance Program
- FMCSA may authorize qualified entities to monitor motor carriers that receive "Beyond Compliance" recognition. To what extent, if any, should the various levels of automation be considered as part of the Beyond Compliance Program?
Regulation of Manufacturing versus Operation
- The regulation of CMVs is a function shared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and FMCSA, with manufacturing regulated by NHTSA and operation regulated by FMCSA (and its State partners). Does this separation of functions create unique problems, or perhaps offer unique solutions, for operators of ADS equipped CMVs?
Confidentiality of Shared Information
- The Agency is seeking information from interested parties on how it might further protect non-public information necessary to assess whether ADS equipped CMVs meet performance standards and accurately document safety related events during a waiver, temporary exemption, or pilot program. What measures would original equipment manufacturers and developers expect of FMCSA before sharing confidential business information? How might the Agency obtain information sufficient to assess the safety performance of CMVs with ADS without collecting confidential business information?
Comments submitted are not limited to the specific questions and example above, but can address additional aspects of CMVs and ADS development, testing and introduction to public roadways
Written comments must be filed by May 10, 2018.