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April 16, 2019 4:30 PM, EDT

FMCSA Grants SmartDrive Five-Year Exemption Regarding ADAS Camera Placement

FMCSA A previous application of SmartDrive camera technology. (SmartDrive System Inc.)

Federal trucking regulators on April 15 granted SmartDrive System Inc. a five-year exemption to allow an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) camera to be mounted lower on truck windshields than currently is permitted.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it has determined that the placement of the SmartDrive ADAS camera lower in the windshield area would not have an adverse impact on safety.

Smartdrive logo

Current FMCSA regulations prohibit the obstruction of the driver’s field of view by devices mounted on the interior of the windshield. Also, antennas and similar devices must not be mounted more than 152 mm (6 inches) below the upper edge of the windshield and must be outside the driver’s sightlines to the road and highway signs and signals.

SmartDrive said it made the request so that it could introduce ADAS capabilities including forward-collision warnings, short following-distance warnings, lane detection and departure warnings, and active monitoring with real-time driver feedback to its current vehicle safety platform.

According to the exemption application, the camera housing is approximately 3.71 inches wide by 5.2 inches tall and will be mounted near the center of the windshield, with the bottom edge of the camera housing about 8 inches below the upper edge of the area swept by the windshield wipers. The camera is mounted outside of the driver and passenger’s normal sightlines to the road ahead, signs, signals and mirrors, SmartDrive said.

“This exemption will accommodate the ADAS camera and housing which is an integral part of our next-generation comprehensive vehicle safety system,” the company said in the application.

SmartDrive Systems FMCSA Exemption by Transport Topics on Scribd

In pilot tests of the ADAS camera and functionality, SmartDrive found that drivers and passengers saw no noticeable obstruction to normal sightlines for the road ahead or to highway signs, signals or any mirrors, FMCSA said.

The agency published a notice of the application in the Federal Register in November that sought public comment, but received only a few comments — including one from National Tank Truck Carriers Inc. and three from individuals.

“Windshield-mounted cameras provide well-documented safety benefits,” NTTC wrote. “FMCSA has granted applications for similar products before and has been directed to support this lifesaving technology. SmartDrive has developed a product that does not fit within FMCSA’s pre-approved location on the windshield but does allow the driver an unobstructed view of the road, signs, signals and mirrors. There is clearly no safety risk.”

Two individuals also supported granting the application and one opposed the exemption, noting concerns that drivers “need the entire usable portion of the windshield in order to have an unbroken view of the constantly changing emergencies happening in any direction.”

SmartDrive, a video and telematics provider based in San Diego, uses video-based safety technology, sensors and data to help fleets improve safety.

The technology gives fleets a complete picture of what is distracting the driver, for how long and the increased risk caused by the distraction. As a result, fleets can provide detailed feedback, actionable coaching and training to improve driver safety, the company said.