National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Releases New Report on Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for Autonomous Vehicles

May 4, 2020

by ASME.org

A new report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) examines current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and seeks to provide a framework on how these rules can be adapted to reasonably cover autonomous vehicles. Researches understand that current safety standards may not be translatable to autonomous vehicles and seek to address these concerns. The report comes in the wake of an March announcement made by NHTSA proposing to modernize numerous Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and clarify ambiguities in current occupant protection standards for vehicles equipped with automated driving systems that are designed without traditional manual controls.

The notice of proposed rulemaking put out in March to make changes to safety crash standards intended to protect passengers, proposing that vehicles without passengers cannot and should not not subject to the same rules. This proposal is reiterated and baked in the newly released report, which also includes options for additional potential rule changes, though it does not directly propose any immediate changes.

The report also recognizes that test procedures to verify FMVSS compliance for autonomous vehicles will also keep advancing. “As the work on more complex standards progresses,” says the authors, “technical translation approaches that were considered appropriate for the standards designated for near-term research might need to be revisited and potentially updated or characterized differently.”

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