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November 2, 2020 5:15 PM, EST

FMCSA Plans Information Collection on Automated Driving Systems

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced plans to submit an Information Collection Request associated with a project to learn more about trucking industry representatives’ opinions of automated driving systems.

An Information Collection Request is a set of documents that details the information a federal agency is looking to gather from a certain sector. The Office of Management and Budget must approve the request before the collection can begin.

According to a document published in the Federal Register on Nov. 3, FMCSA plans to submit the request to OMB and invite public comment on the information collection project. Titled “Trucking Fleet Concept of Operations for Managing Mixed Fleets,” the project involves a survey study designed to collect opinions of ADS before and after hands-on demonstrations of the technologies.

The survey study will assess the self-reports of about 2,000 respondents, including commercial motor vehicle fleet managers, sales representatives, truck drivers, government officials, engineers and researchers.

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“Although ADS-equipped trucks hold the promise of increased safety, productivity and efficiency, it is not clear how these vehicles should be integrated into fleet operations with conventional trucks for mixed-fleet operations,” the Federal Register document states. “FMCSA needs information from truck industry representatives regarding their opinions and perception of ADS.”

The focus of the project is the development and demonstration of a concept of operations for ADS-equipped trucks, which is meant to translate to situations that are of practical importance to the trucking industry. Part of the development of this concept of operations includes a series of outreach events in which members of the public, including truckers and fleet managers, will be able to meet ADS technology developers and original equipment manufacturers.

The outreach events also will provide opportunities for hands-on technology demonstrations. The purpose is to expose industry representatives to ADS, collect data on opinions and perceptions of the technology, and use the data to ensure the concept of operations covers major industry concerns.

FMCSA Automation Request by Transport Topics on Scribd

FMCSA plans to collect data from participants at four roadshows associated with large conferences, including the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting, the North American Commercial Vehicle Show, SAE International’s COMVEC and the Automated Vehicles Symposium.

Data will be collected in two phases: pre-roadshow and post-roadshow. Participant data will be collected using cellphones (which will be cleaned between respondents). The study questionnaires will be distributed to participants at the beginning and end of the roadshows.

“Once they participate in the hands-on demonstrations at the roadshow, we will see if their opinions on the technologies have changed,” the document states.

In preparation for the survey study, FMCSA conducted a pilot test with two researchers, one government employee, one fleet representative and two commercial driver license holders. Their participation indicated each questionnaire should take fewer than five minutes to complete.

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The document notes that ADS in heavy trucks will “profoundly affect” commerce, as trucks move more than 70% of goods transported in the U.S.

However, trucking industry representatives, including for-hire and private fleets, shippers, brokers, manufacturers and maintenance providers, do not have a clear plan of how to implement ADS technology in their daily operations, the document indicates. One challenge is that fleets’ ability to plan for ADS deployment is not keeping pace with technical progress.

“This may adversely affect adoption by truck fleets and associated industries, resulting in the delayed achievement of safety, productivity and efficiency benefits of ADS-equipped trucks,” the document states. “If ADS technology is to gain traction in the U.S. trucking industry, current stakeholders and new entrants need a rigorous, data-driven [concept of operations].”

People may submit their comments on any aspect of this information collection to FMCSA by Jan. 4, 2021.

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