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May 23, 2019 10:30 PM, EDT

FMCSA, NHTSA Seek Comment on Automated Driving Systems

Two federal agencies are seeking public comment that would help in crafting regulations related to automated driving systems.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued advance notices of proposed rulemaking May 22 requesting input on automated driving systems.

There is a 60-day public comment window from when they were published May 28 in the Federal Register.

Specifically, the advance notices of proposed rulemaking pertain to the removal of unnecessary regulatory burdens associated with introducing vehicles equipped with automated driving systems in the United States.

“One of the department’s priorities is to prepare for the future by engaging with new technology while addressing legitimate public concerns about safety, security and privacy without hampering innovation,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said.

Autonomous technology also includes lane-departure warning systems, automated brakes and truck platooning.

FMCSA requests public comment on questions about regulatory areas in order to determine how certain rule changes can account for the differences between human and automated drivers. The agency acknowledges that some rules may need to be adjusted to facilitate the safe introduction of trucks equipped with automated driving systems. The advanced notice said private sector firms will continue to excel in testing and deploying such technologies, which have the potential to improve safety and freight movement.

Regulatory areas in question include requirements for human drivers, commercial driver license endorsements, hours-of-service rules, distracted driving, vehicle maintenance and medical qualifications.

“We know that while many of these technologies are still in development, it is critical that we carefully examine how to make federal rules keep up with this advancing technology,” FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is seeking comment on ways to address the challenges of verifying the compliance of vehicles equipped with automated driving systems with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Specifically, the agency is concerned with automated vehicles that lack traditional manual controls but have typical seating configurations.

“Our mission is to protect Americans on our roads,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King said. “As automated driving systems develop, NHTSA will continue to adapt to make sure the agency is equipped to ensure public safety while encouraging innovation.”

The Department of Transportation solicited public comment on “Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0,” the agency’s policy update of autonomous vehicle technology guidelines, shortly after the document was released in October.

DOT’s previous guidance on automated driving systems, AV 2.0, was published in September 2017. Chao has said that AV 2.0 was the most viewed DOT policy document posted on the agency’s website, garnering more than 125,000 downloads.