[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 12 (Thursday, January 18, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 2607-2614]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-00671]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

[Docket No. NHTSA-2018-0009]


Removing Regulatory Barriers for Vehicles With Automated Driving 
Systems

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Request for comment (RFC).

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SUMMARY: NHTSA seeks public comments to identify any regulatory 
barriers in the existing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) 
to the testing, compliance certification and compliance verification of 
motor vehicles with Automated Driving Systems (ADSs) and certain 
unconventional interior designs. NHTSA is focusing primarily, but not 
exclusively, on vehicles with ADSs that lack controls for a human 
driver; e.g., steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator pedal. The 
absence of manual driving controls, and thus of a human driver, poses 
potential barriers to testing, compliance certification and compliance 
verification. For example, many of the FMVSS refer to the ``driver'' or 
``driver's seating position'' in specifying where various vehicle 
features and systems need to be located so that they can be seen and/or 
used by a person sitting in that position. Further, the compliance test 
procedures of some FMVSS depend on the presence of such things as a 
human test driver who can follow instructions on test driving maneuvers 
or a steering wheel that can be used by an automated steering machine. 
NHTSA also seeks comments on the research that would be needed to 
determine how to amend the FMVSS in order to remove such barriers, 
while retaining those existing safety requirements that will be needed 
and appropriate for those vehicles. In all cases, the Agency's goal 
would be to ensure the maintenance of currently required levels of 
safety performance. These comments will aid the Agency in setting 
research priorities as well as inform its subsequent actions to lay a 
path for innovative vehicle designs and technologies that feature ADSs.

DATES: Comments are due no later than March 5, 2018.

ADDRESSES: Comments must refer to the docket number above and be 
submitted by one of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, M-30, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern 
time, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: 202-493-2251.
    Regardless of how you submit your comments, you must include the 
docket number identified in the heading of this notice.
    Note that all comments received, including any personal information 
provided, will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov. 
Please see the ``Privacy Act'' heading below.
    You may call the Docket Management Facility at 202-366-9324.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov or the street 
address listed above. We will continue to file relevant information in 
the Docket as it becomes available.
    Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits 
comments from the public to better inform its decision-making process. 
DOT posts these comments, without edit, including any personal 
information the commenter provides, to http://www.regulations.gov, as 
described in the system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can 
be reviewed at https://www.transportation.gov/privacy. Anyone can 
search the electronic form of all comments received into any of our 
dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or 
signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, 
business, labor union, etc.).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
    For research issues, John Harding, Intelligent Technologies 
Research Division, Office of Vehicle Crash Avoidance and Electronic 
Controls Research, telephone: 202-366-5665, email: 
John.Harding@dot.gov;
    For rulemaking issues, David Hines, Director, Office of Crash 
Avoidance Standards, telephone 202-366-1810, email David.Hines@dot.gov;
    For legal issues, Stephen Wood, Assistant Chief Counsel, Vehicle 
Rulemaking and Harmonization, Office of Chief Counsel, 202-366-2992, 
email Steve.Wood@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Table of Contents

I. Overview
II. Automation Revolution
III. Changes in Vehicle Interior Designs and Their Effect on 
Testing, Certification and Compliance Verification Under the Federal 
Safety Standards
IV. Initial Agency Efforts To Identify Testing, Certification and 
Compliance Verification Issues
V. Requests for Comment
A. Barriers to Testing, Certification and Compliance Verification
B. Research Needed To Address Those Barriers and NHTSA's Role in 
Conducting it
VI. Public Participation
Appendix
    1. Executive Summary of the Volpe Report
    2. List of Standards Identified in the Volpe Report

I. Overview

    NHTSA wants to avoid impeding progress with unnecessary or 
unintended regulatory barriers to motor vehicles that have Automated 
Driving Systems (ADS) and unconventional designs, especially those with 
unconventional interior designs. These barriers may complicate or may 
even make impossible the testing and certification of motor vehicles. 
At this stage, the Agency is primarily, but not exclusively, concerned 
with vehicles with ADSs that do not have the means for human driving, 
e.g., a steering wheel and brake and accelerator pedals. NHTSA is also 
interested in the additional testing and certification problems for 
vehicles with ADSs and with seating or other systems that have multiple 
modes, such as front seats that rotate. Some FMVSS, therefore, may pose 
barriers to the testing and certification of these vehicles.
    To enable vehicles with ADSs and with unconventional interiors 
while maintaining those existing safety requirements that will be 
needed and appropriate for those vehicles, NHTSA is developing plans 
and proposals for removing or modifying existing regulatory barriers to 
testing and compliance certification in those areas for which existing 
data and knowledge are sufficient to support decision-making. In other 
areas, plans and proposals cannot be developed until the completion of 
near term research to determine how to revise the test procedures for 
those vehicles. In all

[[Page 2608]]

cases, the Agency's goals would be to ensure that the safety 
performance currently required by the FMVSS is as effective and needed 
for safety in vehicles with unconventional interiors (or exteriors) as 
in conventionally-designed vehicles.
    The Agency is mindful that, in some cases, the most appropriate 
response to an existing requirement in a FMVSS that may complicate or 
may even make impossible to test a motor vehicle to assess compliance 
with that requirement may not be to ask how the requirement can be 
adapted to apply to motor vehicles without manual driving controls. 
Instead, a more appropriate response may be to ask whether the 
requirement should be applied in any form to those motor vehicles. 
These requirements may serve a safety purpose in vehicles with manual 
driving controls, but may not in vehicles without such means of 
control. For example, there may not be any need to require that the 
telltales \1\ and other displays in a vehicle that does not have any 
manual driving controls be visible either to the occupant of a 
particular seating position or even to any occupant at all. In 
addition, some requirements may serve a safety purpose in vehicles that 
carry human occupants, but not in vehicles that will not carry any 
occupants.
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    \1\ As defined in FMVSS No. 101, Control and Displays, 
``telltale means an optical signal that, when illuminated, indicates 
the actuation of a device, a correct or improper functioning or 
condition, or a failure to function.''
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    To these ends, NHTSA is soliciting public comments on (1) the 
barriers identified thus far, (2) any as of yet unidentified, barriers, 
(3) whether the requirements or test procedures creating those barriers 
should be modified to eliminate the testing difficulties or should 
simply be amended so that the requirements do not apply to vehicles 
without means of manual control, (4) the research that needs to be done 
to determine how to remove some of the barriers; (5) and how to 
prioritize this research and any follow-on rulemaking proceedings.
    This input will help NHTSA to plan and undertake more comprehensive 
and strategic efforts to remove barriers and to develop a stronger, 
more collaborative research plan that will complement research by the 
motor vehicle industry and other stakeholders. This will enable the 
Agency to use its resources as efficiently as possible in moving toward 
eliminating potential regulatory barriers to innovation.

II. Automation Revolution

    Automotive transportation is evolving faster today than it has at 
any time since the introduction of the first motor vehicle. Artificial 
intelligence, combined with rapid improvements in sensors, such as 
cameras, lidar,\2\ and radar, is beginning to enable motor vehicles to 
drive themselves.
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    \2\ Lidar (light detection and ranging) is a type of sensor that 
continually fires beams of laser light, and then measures how long 
it takes for the light to return to the sensor. The measurements are 
used to create three-dimensional images of a vehicle's surroundings, 
everything from cars to cyclists to pedestrians to fixed objects 
like poles and trees, in a variety of environments and under a 
variety of lighting conditions.
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    The introduction of vehicles with ADSs into the fleet has the 
potential to reduce injuries, the loss of life, and property damage, 
reduce congestion, enhance mobility, and improve productivity.\3\ NHTSA 
anticipates that automation can serve a vital safety role given that 
human error or choice are estimated to be the critical reason in 94 
percent \4\ of crashes. In the best of circumstances, people make 
errors in judgment or action. In the best of circumstances, human 
drivers make errors in judgment or action. Many people drive in less 
favorable circumstances as a result of the choices they make. Despite 
decades of efforts by NHTSA, States, local jurisdictions, safety 
groups, and industry, many people continue to choose to drive when they 
are fatigued, intoxicated, speeding, unbelted, or distracted. To the 
extent that ADSs are able to support and perhaps eventually replace 
human drivers, human error and unsafe choices would likely be reduced 
as causes of crashes. As the Federal agency whose primary mission is to 
reduce motor vehicle related deaths and injuries, NHTSA is excited 
about these prospects and is working with industry and other 
stakeholders to help make them a reality.
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    \3\ U.S. Department of Transportation, Automated Driving 
Systems--A Vision for Safety, 2017, p. i-11 (https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/13069a-ads2.0_090617_v9a_tag.pdf; last accessed November 8, 2017).
    \4\ The National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS), 
conducted from 2005 to 2007, was aimed at collecting on-scene 
information about the events and associated factors leading up to 
crashes involving light vehicles. Several facets of crash occurrence 
were investigated during data collection, namely the pre-crash 
movement, critical pre-crash event, critical reason, and the 
associated factors. A weighted sample of 5,470 crashes was 
investigated over a period of two and a half years, which represents 
an estimated 2,189,000 crashes nationwide. About 4,031,000 vehicles, 
3,945,000 drivers, and 1,982,000 passengers were estimated to have 
been involved in these crashes. The critical reason, which is the 
last event in the crash causal chain, was assigned to the driver in 
94 percent (2.2%)[dagger] of the crashes. In about 2 
percent (0.7%) of the crashes, the critical reason was 
assigned to a vehicle component's failure or degradation, and in 2 
percent (1.3%) of crashes, it was attributed to the 
environment (slick roads, weather, etc.). Among an estimated 
2,046,000 drivers who were assigned critical reasons, recognition 
errors accounted for about 41 percent (2.1%), decision 
errors 33 percent (3.7%), and performance errors 11 
percent (2.7%) of the crashes.
    A fact sheet containing more detail can be found at https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812115.
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III. Changes in Vehicle Interior Designs and Their Effect on Testing, 
Certification and Compliance Verification Under the Federal Safety 
Standards

    Part of NHTSA's responsibility in carrying out its safety mission 
is not only to develop and set new safety standards for new motor 
vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, but also to modify existing 
standards as necessary to respond to changing circumstances such as the 
introduction of new technologies. Some old standards or portions of 
standards may no longer be needed or at least need to be updated to 
keep them relevant. Examples of previous technological transitions that 
triggered the need to adapt and/or replace requirements in the FMVSS 
include the replacing of analog dashboards by digital ones,\5\ the 
replacing of mechanical control systems by electronic ones \6\ and then 
by wireless ones, and the first production of electric vehicles in 
appreciable numbers.\7\
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    \5\ 70 FR 48295 (August 17, 2005).
    \6\ 60 FR 62061 (December 4, 1995).
    \7\ See, e.g., 59 FR 11004 (March 9, 1994) and 59 FR 49901 
(September 30, 1994).
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    The existing FMVSS can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations 
at 49 CFR part 571. NHTSA has over 60 FMVSS today.
    The FMVSS specify minimum performance requirements and test 
procedures for brakes, accelerator controls, electronic stability 
control, seat belts, airbags, exterior lighting and interior warning 
telltales that illuminate to alert the driver when there is a vehicle 
malfunction, and for other equipment. Manufacturers are prohibited from 
selling vehicles and vehicle equipment unless they comply with all 
applicable FMVSS and their compliance has been self-certified by their 
manufacturer.\8\
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    \8\ 49 U.S.C. 30112(a)(1).
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    Almost all of NHTSA's FMVSS were developed and established well 
before vehicles with ADSs became a practicable possibility. As a 
result, the performance requirements and test procedures in many of the 
FMVSS are based on the assumption that the driver

[[Page 2609]]

will be human, will sit in the vehicle's left front seat to drive (in 
left-hand drive vehicles), and will need certain controls to be 
accessible and telltales and other displays to be viewable in order to 
do the driving. A further and even more basic assumption is that there 
will be at least one occupant in each vehicle. In the case of ADS 
delivery vehicles without manual driving controls, this assumption may 
prove incorrect. If, instead, a vehicle is designed so that only an ADS 
can drive it and vehicle designers modify the passenger compartment to 
take advantage of the flexibility afforded them if a human driver is 
not needed, then many of those assumptions will likely be invalid for 
that vehicle, and some may be actually problematic from a testing 
perspective.
    NHTSA has set out below some illustrative examples of potential 
problems with the existing FMVSS. The Agency requests commenters to 
identify other potential problems.
     If the FMVSS can no longer specify where controls and 
displays are located by requiring them to be visible to or within the 
reach of a person sitting in the driver's seat, then it is unclear for 
which person or persons in which seating position or positions must 
they be visible to or within the reach of or even if they are necessary 
at all.
     After the barriers to determining compliance are removed 
from the FMVSS, the Agency will turn to other closely related questions 
such as whether there is a continued need for certain current 
performance requirements in the FMVSS. For example, among the questions 
that the agency would need to address are: Would occupants still need 
warning telltales and other displays to be viewable if they did not 
have any means of driving their vehicles? Could there be any risk of 
adverse safety consequences if some or all of those warnings and 
messages were not provided to the occupants of those vehicles either 
before or during trips? If a vehicle, such as an ADS delivery vehicle 
without manual driving controls, were unlikely to be occupied during 
trips, would there be any safety need for warning telltales and other 
displays to be viewable?
     If future vehicles with ADSs lack any means of human 
control, it is unclear how the Agency and the manufacturers can conduct 
compliance tests (such as those for stopping distance) that are 
currently performed by human test drivers performing prescribed driving 
maneuvers on test tracks.
     FMVSS No. 126, Electronic stability control systems for 
light vehicles, specifies the use of an automated steering machine that 
depends on a vehicle's steering wheel to steer vehicles when they are 
tested for compliance. If a vehicle with ADS is not equipped with a 
steering wheel because the ADS will do all of the driving, the agency 
would need to determine how to amend the standard to enable the agency 
to conduct stability control testing and maintain the current level of 
effectiveness.
     Some vehicles with ADSs may have unique seating 
configurations that may make it impossible for existing crash 
protection requirements, test procedures and test devices (e.g., 
anthropomorphic dummies) to evaluate adequately the level of 
crashworthiness protection provided.
     There may be other existing performance requirements and 
test procedures that would fail to accommodate unconventional designs. 
If there are, the Agency will need to identify them and determine how 
the Agency should amend them in ways maintain the current level of 
effectiveness.
     There may be some safety attributes or testing procedures 
that will no longer have sufficient value in a vehicle whose usage is 
anticipated to be predominantly automated, but still retains manual 
driving controls.
    The Agency wishes to address these issues (and many others) in the 
coming months and years. We anticipate doing so publicly, seeking all 
available research and public input to help us adapt the FMVSS and 
possibly adopt other measures that are well-calibrated to promote 
innovation, respond to changing circumstances and address emerging 
technologies while maintaining safety.
    We want to emphasize, in an attempt to ensure that there is not any 
misunderstanding about the source and nature of the barriers or about 
the vehicles affected by those barriers, that the FMVSS (or any other 
kind of legally-binding standards) do not have any provisions designed 
to address the self-driving capability of a motor vehicle. Further, 
nothing in the existing FMVSS prohibit ADS. Likewise, nothing in those 
standards poses testing or certification challenges for vehicles with 
ADSs so long as the vehicles have means of manual control and 
conventional seating.
    If, however, manufacturers design vehicles with ADSs not only lack 
manual driving controls, but also have unconventional, flexible 
seating, i.e., seats that slide and/or rotate, then under the Agency's 
line of interpretations involving vehicle systems that have multiple 
modes, there may be testing or even compliance difficulties.\9\ Similar 
problems might be encountered by vehicles with ADSs equipped with 
retractable manual driving controls.
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    \9\ See, e.g., May 6, 1986 letter to Paul Utans regarding a 
Subaru with two adjustment positions for suspension--a high one and 
a low one. In it, NHTSA stated that it reserves the right to 
activate either mode in conducting compliance tests.
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    Thus, it is not the inclusion of an ADS in a new vehicle that 
complicates testing and certifying the compliance of the vehicle to the 
existing FMVSS. Testing and certifying compliance potentially becomes 
complicated only if a manufacturer wishes to go a step further and 
design a vehicle with ADS but without a steering wheel, brake pedal and 
accelerator pedal or with novel configurations or orientations for 
certain vehicle systems. As noted above, this problem arises because 
the FMVSS, as currently written, are premised on the presence of means 
of manual control and on conventional seating configurations and 
orientations.
    Although the Agency may have a degree of flexibility in 
interpreting some of its existing FMVSS to accommodate innovative 
interior designs, in most instances, it will be necessary to amend the 
FMVSS. The FMVSS and the rulemaking process through which they are 
established and amended are subject to the Administrative Procedure 
Act,\10\ the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Vehicle 
Safety Act),\11\ other statutes, and various Executive Orders and 
guidance documents from the Office of Management and Budget. Together, 
they ensure the FMVSS meet the requirements and goals set by Congress 
and are adopted only after sufficient opportunities for public 
participation and careful consideration and analysis of available 
information and public comments. Under the Vehicle Safety Act, 
moreover, the FMVSS need to be ``objective, practicable, and meet the 
need for safety'' when initially issued and must remain so after being 
amended. If NHTSA revises a test procedure in an FMVSS to accommodate 
an innovative new vehicle design, it must make sure that the FMVSS 
continues to be objective and practicable and meet the need for safety. 
Accomplishing this goal will, in a number of instances, require 
research to develop revised test procedures and performance criteria. 
Defining the needed research and establishing priorities in conducting 
it is the subject of this RFC.
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    \10\ 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq.
    \11\ 49 U.S.C. 30101 et seq.

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IV. Initial Agency Efforts To Identify Testing, Certification and 
Compliance Verification Issues

    NHTSA began the process of evaluating existing FMVSS for potential 
barriers in 2015. In August of that year, NHTSA contracted with DOT's 
Volpe Center to conduct a review of the FMVSS and issue a report 
identifying the standards that pose potential barriers to the 
introduction of vehicles with ADSs and with unconventional interior 
designs.
    While that review was underway, Google submitted a letter, dated 
November 12, 2015, requesting an interpretation regarding the 
application of certain FMVSS to vehicles with ADSs. In describing its 
ADS vehicle, Google indicated its intent to design the vehicle so that 
it does not include conventional manual driving controls, including a 
steering wheel, accelerator, or brake pedal. NHTSA responded to that 
letter on February 4, 2016.\12\
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    \12\ Available at https://isearch.nhtsa.gov/files/Google%20--%20-compiled%20response%20to%2012%20Nov%20%2015%20interp%20request%20--%204%20Feb%2016%20final.htm.
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    In its letter, NHTSA took the position that a motor vehicle's 
``self-driving system'' (SDS) could be regarded as the driver or that 
the left front seating position could be regarded as the driver's 
position in a variety of standards referencing the ``driver'' or 
``driver's seating position.''
    The response then addressed the question of whether and how Google 
could certify that the SDS meets a standard developed and designed to 
apply to a vehicle with a human driver. NHTSA said that in order for it 
to interpret a standard as allowing certification of compliance by a 
vehicle manufacturer, NHTSA must first have a suitable test procedure 
or other means of verifying such compliance. That is, NHTSA said that 
if a FMVSS lacks a test procedure that is suitable for the Agency's use 
in verifying a manufacturer's certification of the compliance of some 
of its vehicles with a FMVSS, the manufacturer cannot validly certify 
the compliance of those vehicles with the standard. As NHTSA further 
explained in the letter,

    The critical point of NHTSA's responses for many of the 
requested interpretations is that defining the driver as the SDS (or 
the driver's position as the left front position) does not end the 
inquiry or determine the result. Once the SDS is deemed to be the 
driver for purposes of a particular standard or test, the next 
question is whether and how Google could certify that the SDS meets 
a standard developed and designed to apply to a vehicle with a human 
driver. Related, in order for NHTSA to interpret a standard as 
allowing certification of compliance by a vehicle manufacturer, 
NHTSA must first have a test procedure or other means of verifying 
such compliance.

    Volpe completed its review of the FMVSS before NHTSA sent its 
February 4 letter to Google and thus did not consider that letter in 
conducting its review. The report on the results of the review was 
published one month later in March 2016.\13\ (To read the executive 
summary of the report and a list of the FMVSS identified in the report, 
please see the appendix at the end of this document.) In that report, 
Volpe described the two reviews that it conducted of the FMVSS: A 
driver reference scan to identify which standards include an explicit 
or implicit reference to a human driver and a driving automation 
concepts scan to identify which standards could pose a challenge for a 
wide range of driving automation capabilities and concepts. The review 
revealed that there are few barriers for a vehicle with ADS to comply 
with the FMVSS, so long as the vehicle does not significantly diverge 
from a conventional vehicle design. Two standards, FMVSS 114 for theft 
protection and rollaway prevention and FMVSS 135 for light vehicle 
brake systems, were identified as having potential issues for vehicles 
with an ADS and with conventional designs.\14\
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    \13\ Kim, Anita, David Perlman, Dan Bogard, and Ryan Harrington. 
``Review of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for 
Automated Vehicles,'' Preliminary Report--March 2016. U.S. DOT Volpe 
Center, Cambridge, MA. Available at https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/12260. For a specific listing of potential barriers, see 
Appendix B of that report, pp. 26 et seq.
    \14\ Ibid, pp. 9-10. FMVSS 114 presents several issues. One is 
whether, for the purposes of satisfying the requirement an automatic 
transmission ``vehicle must be designed such that the transmission 
or gear selection control cannot move from the ``park'' position, 
unless the key is in the starting system,'' an electronic code 
transmitted from a smartphone application to a vehicle can be 
interpreted as being a key. The report notes that NHTSA has 
historically interpreted the electronic code transmitted by a 
wireless transponder directly to a vehicle as a key for the purposes 
of FMVSS 114. Although the report notes the existence of a 
technological difference in these two different methods of 
transmitting an electronic code to a vehicle, it does not suggest 
why that difference should lead to a different conclusion by the 
Agency.
    FMVSS 135 requires that the service brakes ``shall be activated 
by means of a foot control''.
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    In addition, NHTSA subject matter experts have identified specific 
requirements and test procedure limitations. NHTSA is initiating new 
research on the assessment and evaluation of, and solutions to, the 
preliminary challenges identified in the Volpe report to the testing, 
compliance verification and self-certification of vehicles with ADSs. 
Most of these challenges are precipitated by alternative vehicle 
designs, such as ones lacking manual driving controls. NHTSA's initial 
research focuses primarily on the FMVSS compliance test procedures, but 
will also explore options for telltales, visual and auditory displays 
and controls and other innovative new vehicle design challenges that 
may not have been identified in the original Volpe report. NHTSA has 
contracted with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to perform 
this research. This is a multidisciplinary project to develop technical 
translations to existing FMVSS and related testing procedure approaches 
for emerging innovative and non-traditional vehicle designs. The 
project is being conducted by a core team comprising FMVSS experts; 
industry team members General Motors and Nissan; testing facilities 
Dynamic Research, Inc., and MGA Research Corporation; and research 
institutions Booz Allen Hamilton and the Southwest Research Institute 
in concert with stakeholder and peer review groups. The research will 
review and identify alternative new vehicle designs, develop candidate 
alternative approaches, and establish an evaluation process as well as 
associated tools in close collaboration with critical stakeholders. 
This research project started at the beginning of FY2018 and is 
expected to develop robust alternative approaches within the next 12 
months to demonstrate compliance with many of the identified FMVSS 
whose existing test procedures present challenges. The results of this 
research will be made public after the completion of the project.

V. Requests for Comment

    To help guide NHTSA's research to address testing and self-
certification issues, we seek comments on the topics below. The Agency 
urges that, where possible, comments be supported by data and analysis 
to increase their usefulness. Please clearly indicate the source of 
such data.

A. Barriers to Testing, Certification and Compliance Verification

    1. What are the different categories of barriers that the FMVSS 
potentially create to the testing, certification and compliance 
verification of a new ADS vehicle lacking manual driving controls? 
Examples of barrier categories include the following:
    a. Test procedures that cannot be conducted for vehicles with ADSs 
and with innovative interior designs; and
    b. performance requirements that may serve a reduced safety purpose 
or even no safety purpose at all for a vehicle

[[Page 2611]]

with ADS and thus potentially impose more cost and more restrictions on 
design than are warranted.
    As noted earlier in this document, the first of the above 
categories is the primary focus of this document. However, the Agency 
seeks comments on both categories of barriers. If you believe that 
there are still other barrier categories, please identify them.
    2. NHTSA requests comments on the statement made in NHTSA's 
February 2016 letter of interpretation to Google, that if a FMVSS lacks 
a test procedure that is suitable for the Agency's use in verifying a 
manufacturer's certification of compliance with a provision in that 
FMVSS, the manufacturer cannot validly certify the compliance of its 
vehicles with that provision. Do commenters agree that each of the 
standards identified in the letter as needing to be amended before 
manufacturers can certify compliance with it must be amended in order 
to permit certification? Why or why not? If there are other solutions, 
please describe them.
    3. Do you agree (or disagree) that the FMVSS provisions identified 
in the Volpe report or Google letter as posing barriers to testing and 
certification are, in fact, barriers? Please explain why.
    4. Do commenters think there are FMVSS provisions that pose 
barriers to testing and certification of innovative new vehicle 
designs, but were not covered in the Volpe report or Google letter? If 
so, what are they, how do they pose barriers, and how do you believe 
NHTSA should consider addressing them?
    5. Are there ways to solve the problems that may be posed by any of 
these FMVSS provisions without conducting additional research? If so, 
what are they and why do you believe that no further research is 
necessary? For example, can some apparent problems be solved through 
interpretation? If so, which ones?
    6. Similarly, are there ways to solve the problems that may be 
posed by any of these FMVSS provisions without rulemaking? For example, 
can some apparent problems be solved through interpretation without 
either additional research or through rulemaking? If so, which ones?
    7. In contrast, if a commenter believes that legislation might be 
necessary to enable NHTSA to remove a barrier identified by the 
commenter, please explain why and please identify the specific existing 
law that the commenter thinks should be changed and describe how it 
should be changed. If there are associated regulations that the 
commenter believes should be changed, please identify the specific CFR 
citation and explain why they need to be changed.
    8. Many FMVSS contain test procedures that are based on the assumed 
presence of a human driver, and will therefore likely need to be 
amended to accommodate vehicles that cannot be driven by humans. Other 
FMVSS test procedures may seem, based on a plain reading of their 
language, to accommodate vehicles that cannot be driven by humans, but 
it may nevertheless be unclear how NHTSA (or a manufacturer attempting 
to self-certify to the test) would instruct the vehicle to perform the 
test as written.
    a. Do commenters believe that these procedures should apply to a 
vehicle that cannot be driven by a human? If so, why? If there are data 
to support this positon, please provide it.
    b. If not, can NHTSA test in some other manner? Please identify the 
alternative manner and explain why it would be appropriate.
    9. What research would be necessary to determine how to instruct a 
vehicle with ADS but without manual means of control to follow a 
driving test procedure? Is it possible to develop a single approach to 
inputting these ``instructions'' in a manner applicable to all vehicle 
designs and all FMVSS, or will the approach need to vary, and if so, 
why and how? If commenters believe there is a risk of gaming,\15\ what 
would that risk be and how could it be reduced or prevented?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \15\ For example, if vehicles with ADSs were tested by 
instructing them to follow a fixed path through a maze of streets 
simulating a series of adjacent urban or suburban blocks and if, 
along that path, the vehicles encountered surrogate vehicles, 
cyclists and pedestrians at fixed time intervals and in fixed 
locations, it might be possible for the vehicles to avoid any 
collisions if the vehicles were programmed to stop in those 
locations at the scheduled time intervals in lieu of the vehicles' 
actually relying on their sensors to detect the surrogates and on 
their algorithms to manage braking and steering in such a way as to 
avoid any collisions.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    10. In lieu of the approaches suggested in questions 8 and 9, is 
there an alternative means of demonstrating equivalent level of safety 
that is reliable, objective and practicable?
    11. For FMVSS that include test procedures that assume a human 
driver is seated in a certain seating position (for example, procedures 
that assess whether a rearview mirror provides an image in the correct 
location), should NHTSA simply amend the FMVSS to require, for 
instance, that ``driver's seat'' requirements apply to any front 
seating position? If so, please explain why. If not, what research 
would need to be conducted to determine how NHTSA should amend those 
requirements?
    12. A variety of FMVSS require safety-related dashboard telltales 
and other displays, if provided, to be visible to a human driver and 
controls to be within reach of that driver. Generally speaking, is 
there a safety need for the telltales and other displays in Table 1 and 
2 of FMVSS 101 to be visible to any of the occupants in vehicles 
without manual driving controls? \16\ Commenters are requested to 
provide their own list of the telltales and other displays they believe 
are most relevant to meeting any potential safety need in those 
vehicles. For each item on that list, please answer the following 
questions:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \16\ Examples of such displays are the malfunction displays for 
systems like Antilock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Stability 
Control (ESC), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), air bags, 
etc.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    a. Should the telltale or other display be required to be visible 
to one or more vehicle occupants in vehicles without manual driving 
controls?
    b. If there is a need for continued visibility, to the occupant(s) 
of which seating position(s) should the telltale or other display be 
visible?
    c. Does the answer to the question about the continued need for a 
telltale or other display to be visible to the occupant of a vehicle 
without manual driving controls change if a manufacturer equips the 
vehicle with a device like an ``emergency stop button''? Why or why 
not?
    d. Would the informational safety needs of the occupants of 
vehicles with ADSs differ according to whether the vehicle has a full 
set of manual driving controls, just an emergency stop button or no 
controls whatsoever?
    e. Conversely, if a vehicle is designed such that it can be driven 
only by an ADS, does the ADS need to be provided with some or all of 
the same information currently required to be provided for a human 
driver? For example, does the ADS need to know if the tires are 
underinflated? Why or why not?
    f. If commenters believe that it would enhance safety if a 
vehicle's ADS were required to receive information similar to some or 
all of that currently required to be provided to human drivers by 
telltales and other displays, what research needs to be conducted to 
develop the kinds of objective and practicable performance requirements 
or test procedures that would enable manufacturers and the Agency to 
evaluate whether that information was provided to and understood by the 
ADS?
    13. If NHTSA is going to conduct research to determine whether 
there is any safety need for the occupants of fully-self-driving 
vehicles to continue to

[[Page 2612]]

have any access to any of the nondriving controls (e.g., controls for 
windshield washer/wiper system, turn signals and lights) in a vehicle 
without manual driving controls, what should that research include and 
how should NHTSA conduct it?
    a. If there is a safety need for the occupants of fully-self-
driving vehicles to have access to any of the existing vehicle non-
driving controls, please identify those controls and explain the safety 
need.
    b. Do commenters believe that research should be conducted to 
determine whether any additional controls (such as an emergency stop 
button) might be necessary for safety or public acceptance if manual 
driving controls are removed from fully-self-driving vehicles? Why or 
why not, and what is the basis for your belief?
    c. If NHTSA is going to conduct research to determine whether there 
is any safety need for the occupants of fully-self-driving vehicles to 
continue to be able to control exterior lighting like turn signals and 
headlamp beam switching devices, what should that research include and 
how should NHTSA conduct it? Separately, if NHTSA is going to conduct 
research on what exterior lighting continues to be needed for safety 
when a human is not driving, what should that research include and how 
should NHTSA conduct it?
    14. If NHTSA is going to conduct research to determine whether 
there is a safety need for the occupants of vehicles with ADSs but 
without manual driving controls to be able to see to the side and 
behind those vehicles using mirrors or cameras, what should that 
research include and how should NHTSA conduct it? Separately, if NHTSA 
is going to conduct research to determine how NHTSA would test the 
ability of a vehicle's ADS' to ``see'' around and behind the vehicle as 
well as (or better than) a human driver would, what should that 
research include and how should NHTSA conduct it?
    15. Do the FMVSS create testing and certification issues for 
vehicles with ADSs other than those discussed above? If so, which FMVSS 
do so and why do you believe they present such issues? For example, 
FMVSS No. 108, ``Lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment,'' 
could potentially pose obstacles to certifying the compliance of a 
vehicle that uses exterior lighting and messaging, through words or 
symbols, to communicate to nearby pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, 
such as at a 4-way stop intersection, the vehicle's awareness of their 
presence and the vehicle's willingness to cede priority of movement to 
any of those people. If research is needed to eliminate the barriers in 
an appropriate way, please describe the research and explain why it is 
needed. Are there other lighting issues that should be considered? For 
example, what lighting will be needed to ensure the proper functioning 
of the different types of vehicle sensors, especially cameras whose 
functions include reading traffic control signs?
    16. If occupants of vehicles with ADSs, especially those without 
manual driving controls, are less likely to sit in what is now called 
the driver's seating position or are less likely to sit in seats that 
are facing forward, how should these factors affect existing 
requirements for crashworthiness safety features?
    17. If vehicles with ADSs have emergency controls that can be 
accessed through unconventional means, such as a smart phone or multi-
purpose display and have unconventional interiors, how should the 
Agency address those controls?
    18. Are there any specific regulatory barriers related to small 
businesses that NHTSA should consider, specifically those that may help 
facilitate small business participation in this emerging technology?

B. Research Needed To Address Those Barriers and NHTSA's Role in 
Conducting it

    19. For issues about FMVSS barriers that NHTSA needs research to 
resolve, do commenters believe that there are specific items that would 
be better addressed through research by outside stakeholders, such as 
industry or research organizations, instead of by NHTSA itself?
    a. Which issues is industry better equipped to undertake on its 
own, and why? Which issues are research organizations or other 
stakeholders better equipped to undertake on their own, and why?
    b. What research is needed to determine which types of safety 
performance metrics \17\ should be used to evaluate a particular safety 
capability and to develop a test procedure for evaluating how well a 
vehicle performs in terms of those metrics?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \17\ The purpose of formulating safety performance metrics for 
motor vehicles is to facilitate the quantitative assessment of their 
capabilities. An example of a crash avoidance performance metric is 
the ability of a vehicle with ADS to sense and avoid colliding with 
a surrogate pedestrian crossing a street on a test course.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    c. Which questions is NHTSA better equipped to undertake and why? 
For example, would NHTSA, as the regulator, be the more appropriate 
party to conduct research needed to determine what performance 
threshold to require vehicles to meet with respect to that metric? Why 
or why not?
    d. What research have industry, research organizations, and other 
stakeholders done related to barriers to testing and certification? 
What research are they planning to do? With respect to research 
planned, but not yet completed, please identify the research and state 
the starting and end dates for that research.
    e. How can NHTSA, industry, states, research organizations, and 
other stakeholders work together to ensure that, if the research on 
these issues were eventually to lead to rulemaking, it is done with the 
rigor and thoroughness that NHTSA would need to meet its statutory 
obligations, regardless of who performs it (e.g., done in a manner that 
enables the Agency to ensure that the FMVSS continue to be objective 
and practicable and continue to meet the need for safety)?
    20. For the issues identified above or by commenters, which merit 
the most attention? How should the agency prioritize its research and 
any follow-on rulemakings to remove the barriers to testing and 
certification?
    21. Correcting barriers associated with the track testing of motor 
vehicles will be particularly challenging. Examples of such barriers 
follow:
    a. As noted above, FMVSS No. 126 specifies the use of an automated 
steering machine that depends on a vehicle's steering wheel to steer 
vehicles when they are tested for compliance. NHTSA will need to 
determine how to amend the standard to enable the agency to conduct 
stability control testing in vehicles that lack a steering wheel. 
Further, if NHTSA is going to conduct research to consider how to 
change the ``sine with dwell'' test procedure for FMVSS No. 126, so 
that steering wheel angle need not be measured at the steering wheel in 
determining compliance with the standard, what should that research 
include and how should NHTSA conduct it?
    b. If NHTSA is going to conduct research to develop a performance 
test to verify how a vehicle is activating its service brakes, what 
should that research include and how should NHTSA conduct it? If NHTSA 
is going to conduct research to determine whether there continues to be 
a safety need to maintain a human-operable service brake, what should 
that research include and how should NHTSA conduct it?

[[Page 2613]]

    22. Are there industry standards, existing or in development, that 
may be suitable for incorporation by reference by NHTSA in accordance 
with the standards provisions of the National Technology Transfer and 
Advancement Act of 1995 and Office of Management and Budget Circular A-
119, ``Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary 
Consensus Standards and Conformity Assessment Activities?''

VI. Public Participation

How do I prepare and submit comments?

    Your comments must be written and in English. To ensure that your 
comments are filed in the correct docket, please include the docket 
number of this document in your comments.
    Your comments must not be more than 15 pages long (49 CFR 553.21). 
NHTSA established this limit to encourage you to write your primary 
comments in a concise fashion. However, you may attach necessary 
additional documents to your comments. There is no limit on the length 
of the attachments.
    Please submit one copy (two copies if submitting by mail or hand 
delivery) of your comments, including the attachments, to the docket 
following the instructions given above under ADDRESSES. Please note, if 
you are submitting comments electronically as a PDF (Adobe) file, we 
ask that the documents submitted be scanned using an Optical Character 
Recognition (OCR) process, thus allowing NHTSA to search and copy 
certain portions of your submissions.

How do I submit confidential business information?

    If you wish to submit any information under a claim of 
confidentiality, you must submit three copies of your complete 
submission, including the information you claim to be confidential 
business information, to the Office of the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the 
address given above under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    In addition, you may submit a copy (two copies if submitting by 
mail or hand delivery) from which you have deleted the claimed 
confidential business information, to the docket by one of the methods 
given above under ADDRESSES. When you send a comment containing 
information claimed to be confidential business information, you should 
include a cover letter setting forth the information specified in 
NHTSA's confidential business information regulation (49 CFR part 512).

Will NHTSA consider late comments?

    NHTSA will consider all comments received before the close of 
business on the comment closing date indicated above under DATES. To 
the extent possible, NHTSA will also consider comments received after 
that date.

How can I read the comments submitted by other people?

    You may read the comments received at the address given above under 
ADDRESSES. The hours of the docket are indicated above in the same 
location. You may also read the comments on the internet, identified by 
the docket number at the heading of this notice, at http://www.regulations.gov.
    Please note that, even after the comment closing date, NHTSA will 
continue to file relevant information in the docket as it becomes 
available. Further, some people may submit late comments. Accordingly, 
NHTSA recommends that you periodically check the docket for new 
material.

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 30101 et seq., 49 U.S.C. 30182.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on January 10, 2018, under authority 
delegated in 49 CFR part 1.95.
Heidi King,
Deputy Administrator.

Appendix

1. Executive Summary of the Volpe Report

Review of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for Automated 
Vehicles

Identifying Potential Barriers and Challenges for the Certification of 
Automated Vehicles Using Existing FMVSS

Preliminary Report--March 2016

Anita Kim, David Perlman, Dan Bogard and Ryan Harrington Technology 
Innovation and Policy Division

    `` Current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 
(FMVSS) do not explicitly address automated vehicle technology and 
often assume the presence of a human driver. As a result, existing 
language may create certification challenges for manufacturers of 
automated vehicles that choose to pursue certain vehicle concepts.
     The purpose of this work is to identify instances where 
the existing FMVSS may pose challenges to the introduction of 
automated vehicles. It identifies standards requiring further 
review--both to ensure that existing regulations do not unduly 
stifle innovation and to help ensure that automated vehicles perform 
their functions safely.
     The review highlighted standards in the FMVSS that may 
create certification challenges for automated vehicle concepts with 
particular characteristics, including situations in which those 
characteristics could introduce ambiguity into the interpretation of 
existing standards. The review team's approach was meant to be as 
inclusive as possible, with the intent to identify standards that 
would require further review or discussion.
     This is a preliminary report summarizing the review of 
FMVSS and includes a discussion on approach, findings, and analysis. 
As a preliminary review, the contents of this report reflect the 
results of an initial analysis and may be modified based on 
stakeholder input and future discussion.
     The Volpe team conducted two reviews of the FMVSS: a 
driver reference scan to identify which standards include an 
explicit or implicit reference to a human driver and an automated 
vehicle concepts scan to identify which standards could pose a 
challenge for a wide range of automated vehicle capabilities and 
concepts.
    [cir] The driver reference scan revealed references in numerous 
standards to a driver (defined in Sec.  571.3 as ``. . . the 
occupant of the motor vehicle seated immediately behind the steering 
control system''), a driver's seating position, or controls and 
displays that must be visible to or operable by a driver, or 
actuated by a driver's hands or feet.
    [cir] In order to conduct the automated vehicle concepts scan, 
the Volpe team developed 13 different automated vehicle concepts, 
ranging from limited levels of automation (and near-term 
applications) to highly-automated, driverless concepts with 
innovative vehicle designs. The idea was to evaluate the FMVSS 
against these different automated vehicle concepts.
     In summary, the review revealed that there are few 
barriers for automated vehicles to comply with FMVSS, as long as the 
vehicle does not significantly diverge from a conventional vehicle 
design. Two standards: theft protection and rollaway prevention 
(Sec.  571.114) and light vehicle brake systems (Sec.  571.135) were 
identified as having potential issues for automated vehicles with 
conventional designs.
     Automated vehicles that begin to push the boundaries of 
conventional design (e.g., alternative cabin layouts, omission of 
manual controls) would be constrained by the current FMVSS or may 
conflict with policy objectives of the FMVSS. Many standards, as 
currently written, are based on assumptions of conventional vehicle 
designs and thus pose challenges for certain design concepts, 
particularly for `driverless' concepts where occupants have no way 
of driving the vehicle (e.g., Sec.  571.101, controls and displays, 
Sec.  571.111, rear visibility, Sec.  571.208, occupant crash 
protection represent a few examples).
     Subsequent to the Volpe Center's review of the FMVSS, 
but prior to the publication of this report, NHTSA released 
interpretations to BMW of North America and Google, Inc. in response 
to questions regarding how to interpret certain FMVSS requirements 
in the context of automated vehicles. As a result, the review does 
not reflect this subsequent development. The full text of these 
interpretations are available in NHTSA's repository of 
interpretation files at the website: isearch.nhtsa.gov.''

[[Page 2614]]

2. List of Standards Identified in the Volpe Report

    In the report, the Volpe Center reported 32 of 63 FMVSS's that 
may present certification challenges for certain types of automated 
vehicles because they contain performance specifications, test 
procedures, or equipment requirements that present potential 
barriers to the certification of one or more AV concepts:
    1. Conventional Vehicles (with driver controls) with highly-
automated features (2 standards identified).
     key must be in position before moving out of park 
position, and park position interlock with the service brake 
(571.114),
     foot-actuated service brake control, brake system 
warning indicator, and warning device for lining replacements 
(571.135).
    2. Fully-self-driving vehicles (no driver controls or novel 
design) (32 standards identified, some examples listed below).
     controls and displays visible to the driver (571.101),
     transmission shift position sequence and interlock 
(571.102),
     windshield defrosting and defogging (571.103),
     windshield wipers (571.104),
     foot-actuated service brake control, brake system 
warning indicator, and warning device for lining replacements 
(571.105),
     turn signal, flasher, headlamp beam switch, and upper 
beam indicator (571.108),
     tire/rim retention requirement for driver (571.110),
     requirements for rear visibility for the driver 
(571.111),
     key must be in position before moving out of park 
position, and park position interlock with the service brake 
(571.114),
     powered windows and roof panels (571.118),
     foot-actuated service brake control, low-pressure brake 
system warning indicator, and brake adjustment indicators (571.121),
     motorcycle brake systems (571.122),
     accelerator pedal must return to neutral when released 
by the driver (571.124),
     a steering wheel (a requirement for completing tests) 
and certain controls and displays (571.126),
     foot-actuated service brake control, brake system 
warning indicator, and warning device for lining replacements 
(571.135),
     TPMS telltale for low tire pressure to warn driver 
(571.138),
     occupant protection in interior impact (571.201),
     door locks and door retention components (571.206),
     a designated seating position for the driver (571.207),
     occupant protection and warning system for non-buckled 
seat belt (571.208),
     seat belt anchorages (571.210),
     side impact protection (571.214),
     windshield zone intrusion (571.219),
     child restraint anchorage systems (571.225),
     readiness monitor for ejection mitigation 
countermeasures visible to the driver (571.226),
     flammability of interior materials (571.302),
     interior trunk release (571.401),
     other equipment may pose barriers to certification.

[FR Doc. 2018-00671 Filed 1-17-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P