NHTSA Seeking Input for National Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Program

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on Oct. 10 in the Federal Register to help the agency design a national pilot program that will enable NHTSA to “facilitate, monitor and learn” from the testing and development of what it calls automated driving systems or ADS and to “assure the safety” of those testing activities.

“The agency seeks these comments from interested stakeholders, including state and local authorities, companies, researchers, safety advocates and other experts interested in, engaged in or planning to become engaged in the design, development, testing, and deployment of motor vehicles with high and full driving automation,” NHTSA said in its ANPRM, adding that it “also seeks comments from road users, including vehicle drivers and passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians.”

This effort is being undertaken as part of the USDOT’s third version of federal regulatory guidance for autonomous vehicles, released on Oct. 4.

NHTSA said it is also seeking comments on the use of “existing statutory provisions and regulations” to allow for the implementation of such a pilot program along with any perceived need for “additional elements of regulatory relief” such as exceptions, exemptions, or other potential measures to conduct on-road research and testing involving autonomous vehicles, especially those “that lack controls for human drivers and thus may not comply with all existing safety standards.”

Finally, the agency said it seeks comments on the “nature of the safety and any other analyses” that it should perform in assessing the “exemption petitions” for companies participating in its proposed national testing program for autonomous vehicles “to protect public safety and facilitate the agency’s monitoring and learning from the testing and deployment, while preserving the freedom to innovate.”

Comments are due Nov. 26 and should reference Docket Number NHTSA-2018-0092.

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