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DOT, NHTSA roll out latest AV testing guidance

DOT, NHTSA roll out latest AV testing guidance

The U.S. Department of Transportation rolled out the third installment of its autonomous-vehicle policy guidance, pledging to review motor vehicle safety standards, better understand the commercial and labor effects of autonomous tech and streamline the testing of self-driving cars.

“Automated-vehicle technology is moving forward so rapidly, so the department can’t stand still,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in remarks on Thursday announcing the guidance.

The release follows guidance introduced last year and previously under the Obama administration.

A turbulent year

Significant changes have occurred in the year since regulators last revised autonomous policy guidance, including fatal accidents involving autonomous technology and the advancement of local and state autonomous pilot programs involving trucking, transit and personal mobility.

A March survey by AAA found that 73 percents of respondents would be afraid to ride in self-driving cars.

The DOT addresses these developments by launching a number of research initiatives aimed at increasing understanding of the development and effects of autonomous technology.

“Consumer acceptance will be the constraint to growth of this technology,” Chao said. “Without public acceptance, the full potential of these technologies will never be realized.”

For instance, voluntary safety self-assessment forms that companies may fill out will now include sections covering test driver training and monitoring.

Safety concerns

Safety advocates say the additional guidelines still fall short.

The Department of Transportation “continues to insist that eliminating regulation is the way to achieve safety,” said Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety.

“Despite cybersecurity vulnerabilities continuing to dominate headlines, and rising public concern surrounding driverless cars, NHTSA is still failing to require the submission of any information about the most basic level of safety prior to this technology being deployed on our streets and in our neighborhoods.”

Rethinking requirements

Most significantly, regulators from NHTSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Administration, which governs commercial trucking and fleets, will begin rethinking regulatory requirements for vehicles deployed with autonomous technology.

In January, General Motors petitioned NHTSA for an exemption to certain Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, a set of standards for vehicles that includes the requirement of manual steering, braking and acceleration controls.

That petition is still being considered, a spokesman said, but the guidance released considers “a more fundamental revamping” of standards, including the possible creation of new testing procedures that take into account the experimental nature of this technology.

The department will also cease recognizing the 10 federally designated autonomous proving grounds that were established for preferential treatment in the waning days of the Obama administration, citing the increase in testing across the nation.

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Date: 07.10.18     Views: 41