The U.S. DOT Issued a Notice of Request for Comments on newly issued autonomous vehicle guidelines - Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0 (AV 3.0)
On October 9, 2018 in Federal Register Vol. 83 Number 195 the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) issued a Notice of Request for Comment (RFC) in Docket No. DOT-OST–2018–0149). The RFC is focused on Automated Vehicles 3.0 (ISBN 978-0-16-094944-9) published by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). AV 3.0 is based on input from a wide range of stakeholders and expands the scope to all surface on-road transportation systems. Included is a letter from Secretary Elaine L. Chao indicating that AV 3.0 is a milestone in the DOT's attempt to develop a flexible, responsible framework for multimodal automation. The DOT's strategy includes introducing guiding principles, addressing existing barriers to safety innovation, communicating the DOT's agenda to the public and stakeholders, and encouraging opportunities for collaboration.
The document indicates that the right approach begins with a focus on removing unnecessary barriers and issuing voluntary guidance, rather than regulations that could stifle innovation. Also, going forward, regulations will no longer assume that the driver is always a human, or that a human is necessarily present onboard during its operation. The DOT recognizes that the quality and uniformity of road markings, signage, and other traffic control devices support safe and efficient driving by both human drivers and automated vehicles.
The DOT identified six principles to shaping their policy for automated vehicles:
- Prioritise Safety
- Remain Technology Neutral
- Modernise Regulations
- Encourage a Consistent Regulatory and Operational Environment
- Prepare Proactively for Automation
- Protect and Enhance the Freedoms Enjoyed by Americans
AV 3.0 outlines how automation will be safely integrated across passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, on-road transit and the roadways:
- Encourage developers to make their Voluntary Safety Self-Assessments public
- Provide considerations and best practices for State and local authorities
- Support the development of voluntary technical standards
- Describe an illustrative framework of safety risk management stages
- Affirm the Department's work to preserve the 5.9GHz spectrum
AV 3.0 responds to issues raised by stakeholders including:
- Interpret and adapt the definitions of "driver" and "operator" to recognize that such terms do not refer exclusively to a human, but may include an automated system
- Recognize no need for DOT to favor particular testing locations or to pick winners and losers
- Urge States and localities to remove barriers (unnecessary and incompatible regulations)
- Affirm DOT's authority to establish motor vehicle safety standards allowing for innovative automated design (eg. vehicles without steering wheels, pedals, or mirrors)
- Reaffirm the DOT's reliance on a self-certification approach
- Clarify that the Federal Transit Administration will provide transit agencies with tailored technical assistance as they develop and deploy automated transit bus systems
AV 3.0 describes how DOT will respond as automation technology evolves:
- Announce a forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which includes the possibility of setting exceptions to certain safety standards that are relevant only with human drivers
- Inform stakeholders that DOT will seek public comment on a proposal to streamline and modernise procedures the NHTSA will follow, when processing and deciding exemption petitions
- Define a targeted Federal role in automation research
- Inform stakeholders of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) intent to initiate an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), to better understand areas of responsibility between the State and Federal governments
- State that the FMCSA will also consider changes to its motor carrier safety regulations to accommodate the integration of automated driving system (ADS) equipped commercial vehicles
- Inform stakeholders that DOT plans to update the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
- Identify automation-related voluntary standards being developed
- Announce a study of the workforce impacts of automated vehicles
Cybersecurity will be addressed by DOT working closely with the Department of Justice; the Department of Commerce and its National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); the Federal Trade Commission; the Federal Communications Commission; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS); industry subject matter experts; and other public agencies to address cyber vulnerabilities and manage cyber risks related to automation technology and data.
Privacy, another significant area requiring customer acceptance, is taken seriously by the DOT as they review implications of safety regulations and voluntary guidance. They work closely with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the primary Federal agency charged with protecting consumers’ privacy and personal information, to support the protection of consumer information and provide resources relating to consumer privacy.
Many Americans remain sceptical about the notion that their car could one day be driving itself, rather than being driven by humans. Predicting the exact way consumers will choose to interact with these technologies is not easy. As a result, the DOT will not rush to regulate a nascent and rapidly evolving technology. Instead, the Department supports an environment where innovation can thrive and the American public can be excited and confident about the future of transportation. For that to happen, a flexible policy architecture is needed.
Also included with the AV 3.0 document are 3 APPENDICES
- A - KEY TERMS AND ACRONYMS
- B - STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT – Stakeholders most common concerns
- C - VOLUNTARY TECHNICAL STANDARDS FOR AUTOMATION - the DOT's continued cooperative, coordinated approach to supporting development of stakeholder-driven voluntary technical standards
Written comments must be filed within 60 days after publication of the AV 3.0 document.