[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 30 (Tuesday, February 13, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 6148-6152]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-02895]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

[Docket No. NHTSA-2018-0009]

Removing Regulatory Barriers for Vehicles With Automated Driving 

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

ACTION: Request for comment; public meeting.


SUMMARY: NHTSA is announcing a public meeting as part of the Agency's 
effort to seek 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 
vehicles with Automated Driving Systems (ADSs) and certain 
unconventional interior designs. The Agency published a Federal 
Register Notice of Request for Comments (RFC) titled Removing 
Regulatory Barriers for Vehicles with Automated Driving Systems on 
January 18, 2018, that included specific questions for which the Agency 
seeks comment (83 FR 2607, Docket No. NHTSA-2018-0009). NHTSA is 
holding this public meeting to present to the public a summary of the 
RFC and activities underway at NHTSA and across the industry regarding 
the identification and removal of barriers that might impede safe 
deployment of ADSs. This material is intended to better inform the 
public as they prepare comments in response to the RFC. Public comments 
are welcome at this meeting, but all should be oral, and any supporting 
presentations or materials should be submitted to the docket for 

DATES: NHTSA will hold the public meeting on March 6, 2018, in 
Washington, DC. The meeting will start at 10 a.m. and continue until 
3:30 p.m., EST. Check-in (through security) will begin at 9 a.m. 
Attendees should arrive early enough to enable them to go through 
security by 9:50 a.m.

[[Page 6149]]

ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the U.S. Department of 
Transportation headquarters building located at 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE, Washington, DC 20590 (Green Line Metro Station at Navy Yard) in the 
Conference Center. This facility is accessible to individuals with 
disabilities. The meeting will also be webcast live, and a link to the 
actual webcast will be available on NHTSA's technical ADSs website 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions about the public 
meeting, please contact us at [email protected] or Debbie Sweet at 
[email protected], 202-366-7179.

    Registration is encouraged for all attendees. Attendees should 
register at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NHTSABarriers by March 2, 
2018. Please provide name, affiliation, and email, indicate if you wish 
to offer remarks (speaking would be limited to 10 minutes per person), 
and please indicate whether you are requesting specific accommodations. 
Space is limited, so advanced registration is encouraged.
    Although attendees will be given the opportunity to offer comments, 
the Agency is limiting comments to oral only. We may not be able to 
accommodate all attendees who wish to make oral comments and will 
arrange the speakers on a first-come, first-served basis. However, if 
time does not allow for all comments during the meeting, comments may 
be submitted to the docket and will carry the same weight during review 
and analysis.
    Should it be necessary to cancel the meeting due to inclement 
weather or other emergency, NHTSA will take all available measures to 
notify registered participants.
    NHTSA will conduct the public meeting informally, and technical 
rules of evidence will not apply. We will arrange for a written 
transcript of the meeting and keep the official record open for 30 days 
after the meeting to allow submission of supplemental information. You 
may make arrangements for copies of the transcripts directly with the 
court reporter, and the transcript will also be posted in the docket 
when it becomes available. The webcast will be recorded and posted to 
the NHTSA website as well.
    Written Comments: Written statements and supporting information 
submitted during the comment period will be considered with the same 
weight as oral comments and supporting information presented at the 
public meeting. Please submit all written comments no later than April 
5, 2018, by any of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
     Mail: Docket Management Facility: U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West 
Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001, between 
9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.
     Fax: 202-366-1767.
    Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and 
docket number. Note that all comments received will be posted without 
change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal 
information provided. Please see the Privacy Act discussion below.
    Docket: For access to the docket go to http://www.regulations.gov 
at any time or to 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building, Ground 
Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. Telephone: 202-366-
    Privacy Act: 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.). You may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on 
April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70; Pages 19477-78), or you may visit 
    Confidential Business Information: If you wish to submit any 
information under a claim of confidentiality, you should submit three 
copies of your complete submission, including the information you claim 
to be confidential business information to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at 
the address given under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In addition, 
you should submit two copies from which you have deleted the claimed 
confidential business information, to Docket Management at the address 
given above. When you send a comment containing information claimed to 
be confidential business information, you should submit a cover letter 
setting forth the information specified in our confidential business 
information regulation (49 CFR part 512).
    Background: NHTSA wants to avoid impeding progress with unnecessary 
or unintended regulatory barriers to motor vehicles that have Automated 
Driving Systems (ADSs) and unconventional designs, especially those 
with unconventional interior designs. 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.
    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. 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, the replacing of mechanical control systems by electronic 
ones, and the first production of electric vehicles in appreciable 
numbers. The existing FMVSS can be found in the Code of Federal 
Regulations at 49 CFR part 571.
    Almost all of NHTSA's FMVSS were developed and established well 
before ADS vehicles became a practicable possibility. As a result, the 
minimum performance requirements and test procedures in many of the 
FMVSS are based on assumptions about drivers occupying and controlling 
the vehicle. If a vehicle is designed so that only an ADS can control 
it rather than the human driver, and vehicle designers modify the 
passenger compartment, then many of the original assumptions will 
likely be invalid for that vehicle, and some may be problematic from a 
testing perspective.
    Meeting and Draft Agenda: This public meeting is being held during 
the open comment period. The meeting is intended to present information 
regarding the RFC, questions of interest, activities within NHTSA with 
respect to barrier removal and activities external to NHTSA regarding 
barrier removal. This information will in turn provide more

[[Page 6150]]

thorough background for those submitting comments to the RFC. Following 
presentations by NHTSA and various stakeholders, the public will have 
an opportunity to provide remarks. Individuals who register to speak at 
the Public Meeting will have 10 minutes to present oral remarks to 
NHTSA staff. Clarification questions may be asked of the presenters. 
Those registered to provide remarks will have the first opportunity to 
speak. The meeting agenda follows:

9:00-9:55 a.m.--Arrival/Check-In
9:55-10:00 a.m.--Meeting Logistics
10:00-10:05 a.m.--Welcome Remarks
10:05-10:20 a.m.--NHTSA Remark Regarding RFC
10:20-10:50 a.m.--Presentation of NHTSA/VTTI Research
10:50-11:00 a.m.--Questions for NHTSA/VTTI
11:00-11:50 a.m.--Presentation of Industry Activities
11:50 a.m.-12:00 p.m.--Questions for Industry
12:00-1:00 p.m.--Lunch
1:00-2:15 p.m.--Comments from Registered Attendees
2:15-2:30 p.m.--Break
2:30-3:30 p.m.--Comments from Registered Attendees

    Specific Guiding Questions: To help guide NHTSA's research to 
address testing and self-certification issues, we seek comments on the 
topics below (the same questions as presented in the Request for 
Comments). 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 vehicles with ADSs and thus 
potentially impose more cost and more restrictions on design than are 
    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 position, 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 an 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? If so, why 
and how? If commenters believe there is a risk of gaming, what would 
that risk be and how could it be reduced or prevented?
    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 
    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 No. 101 to be visible to any of the occupants in vehicles 
without manual driving controls? 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:
    a. Should the telltale or other display be required to be visible 
to one or more vehicle occupants in vehicles without manual driving 
    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 

[[Page 6151]]

    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 
    d. Would the informational safety needs of the occupants of 
vehicles with ADSs differ depending on 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 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 
    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 have any access to any of the non-driving 
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 
    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 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?
    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 has 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 
expected 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 FMVSS are and remain 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 
    21. Correcting barriers associated with the track testing of motor 
vehicles will

[[Page 6152]]

be particularly challenging. Examples of such barriers follow:
    a. 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?
    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?''

    Issued in Washington, DC, under authority delegated by 49 CFR 
Nathaniel Beuse,
Associate Administrator for Vehicle Safety Research.
[FR Doc. 2018-02895 Filed 2-12-18; 8:45 am]