US Federal Agencies are Continuing to Pursue Rulemaking related to Autonomous Vehicles
On May 28, 2019 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in the Federal Register (FR Vol. 84 No.102; Docket No. NHTSA-2019-0036). The NHTSA is seeking public comment on the suitability of various approaches that could be used to address compliance verification challenges that exist for Automated Driving Systems (ADS) equipped motor vehicles. This first ANPRM addresses crash avoidance requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS 100 Series) that either require a manual control or specify the use of manual controls in a compliance test procedure.
Also on May 28, 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an ANPRM (FR Vol 84 No. 102; Docket No. FMCSA-2018-0037) and is seeking public comment addressing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) that may need to be amended, revised, or eliminated to facilitate the safe introduction of commercial vehicles equipped with ADS.
The NHTSA's long-term goal is to use information obtained by this ANPRM and the NHTSAs other research efforts to formulate a proposal to amend the FMVSS 100 Series to address compliance challenges with a continued focus on safety. NHTSA intends to issue two additional documents to remove barriers in the crashworthiness FMVSS 200-Series standards and address issues in the FMVSSs pertaining to telltales, indicators, and warnings in Automated Driving Systems - Dedicated Vehicles (ADS-DVs).
In this ANPRM the NHTSA discusses two potential types of regulatory barriers for ADS-DVs without traditional manual controls, describes a FMVSS that exemplifies each challenge, and presents a brief overview of material received with their earlier Request for Comment (RFC). The NHTSA includes 39 specific questions for comment. They also indicate that the Department of Transportation's automation principals are: prioritize safety, remain technology neutral, modernize regulations, encourage a consistent regulatory and operational environment, prepare proactively for automation and protect and enhance freedoms for Americans.
In the task of adapting its regulations to accommodate ADS technologies, FMCSA is considering amendments to its rules to account for significant differences between human operators and ADS. The Agency's initial effort is to avoid development of an entirely separate set of rules for ADS-equipped CMVs. The FMCSA would rely on NHTSA to establish Federal standards, if necessary, applicable to ADS equipment manufacturers (whether of original or aftermarket equipment), while FMCSA would focus on those rules necessary to ensure that motor carriers operating ADS-equipped CMVs have a uniform regulatory framework within which to operate in interstate commerce.
The FMCSA does not believe there is a need to revise the FMCSRs to accommodate the SAE Levels 1-3 equipment because a licensed CMV operator must be present at the controls of these vehicles. However, revisions to some of the FMCSR's may be needed to address situations in which the ADS technology may have complete control of the CMV under certain circumstances (SAE Level 4) or all circumstances (SAE Level 5). FMCSA requests comments on whether there should be situations (configurations/cargo) where fully automated operations should be restricted or prohibited.
Specific areas previously addressed by RFCs and public meetings that are cited in this ANPRM by summarizing received comments, presenting FMCSA current positions and including questions for further public input are:
- Do the FMCSRs require a Human Driver?
- Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Endorsements
- Drivers' Hours of Service (HOS)
- Rules Medical Qualifications for Human Operators
- Distracted Driving and Monitoring
- Safe Driving
- Inspection, Repair and Maintenance Roadside Inspections
- Confidentiality of Shared Information
In the event FMCSA amends the FMCSRs to adopt rules concerning the operation of ADS-equipped CMVs, the FMCSA anticipates its State partners would adopt compatible rules. Through this rulemaking, the FMCSA discourages States from adopting more stringent rules concerning ADS, which could interfere with interstate commerce.
Because of the advances in ADS technology, the FMCSA's preferred approach to adopting safety requirements at this time is to rely on the development of consensus standards, whenever practicable. Voluntary standards offer flexibility and responsiveness to the rapid pace of innovation, can encourage investment and bring cost-effective innovation to the market more quickly, and may be validated by private sector conformity assessment and testing protocols.
Comments on the two ANPRMs must be submitted by July 29, 2019. The original FR ANPRM by FMCSA specified comments due by August 26, 2019, but on May 31, 2019 the FR Vol. 84 No. 105 corrected the comment due date to July 29, 2019.