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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

FMCSA Seeking Comment On Regulations That May Be Barrier to Safe Testing Of Autonomous CMV’s


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is requesting public comments “on existing Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that may need to be updated, modified, or eliminated to facilitate the safe introduction of automated driving systems equipped commercial motor vehicles onto our Nation’s roadways.”

Last September, the Department of Transportation released its autonomous vehicle voluntary guidance called “Automated Driving Systems: A Vision for Safety 2.0.” However, those guidelines do not apply to trucks, which fall under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Current FMCSA rules require a trained driver behind the wheel at all times, regardless of autonomous technology. FMCSA is exploring the possibility of doing away with that requirement.

“The absence of specific regulatory text requiring a driver be behind the wheel may afford the Agency the flexibility to allow, under existing regulations, (automated driving systems) to perform the driver’s functions …without the presence of a trained commercial driver in the driver’s seat,” the Agency states in it’s request for comments.

The voluntary guidance adopts definitions for levels of automation, ranging from 0-5. For the purposes of this request for comments, the Agency’s primary focus is Levels 3-5, which meet these definitions:

SAE Level 3, Conditional Driving Automation; the driver is a necessity, but is not required to monitor the environment. The driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times with notice.

SAE Level 4, High Driving Automation; the vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions under certain conditions. The driver may have the option to control the vehicle.

SAE Level 5, Full Driving Automation: the vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions under all conditions.

Previous requests to gather public input include the April 2108 public listening session to solicit information on issues relating to the design, development, testing, and integration of ADS-equipped commercial motor vehicles. In addition, FMCSA commissioned the U.S. Department of Transportation’s John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center to conduct a preliminary review of the FMCSRs to identify regulations that may relate to the development and safe introduction of automated driving systems.