[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 196 (Wednesday, October 10, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 50872-50883]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-21919]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Parts 555, 571 and 591

[Docket No. NHTSA-2018-0092]
RIN 2127-AL99


Pilot Program for Collaborative Research on Motor Vehicles With 
High or Full Driving Automation

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

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM).

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SUMMARY: NHTSA is seeking public comment on matters related to the 
near-term and long-term challenges of

[[Page 50873]]

Automated Driving Systems (ADS) testing, development and eventual 
deployment. ADS testing and development are already underway in several 
areas of the United States. As technology evolves and in anticipation 
of requests to test and further develop high and full ADS, including 
those in vehicles without traditional controls necessary for a human 
driver, NHTSA is issuing this ANPRM to obtain public comments on the 
factors and structure that are appropriate for the Agency to consider 
in designing a national pilot program that will enable it to 
facilitate, monitor and learn from the testing and development of the 
emerging advanced vehicle safety technologies and to assure the safety 
of those 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. The Agency also 
seeks comments from road users, including vehicle drivers and 
passengers, cyclists and pedestrians.
    More specifically, NHTSA requests comments on the following topics 
related to ADS safety research. First, NHTSA seeks comments on 
potential factors that should be considered in designing a pilot 
program for the safe on-road testing and deployment of vehicles with 
high and full driving automation and associated equipment. Second, the 
Agency seeks comments on the use of existing statutory provisions and 
regulations to allow for the implementation of such a pilot program. 
Third, the Agency seeks comment on any additional elements of 
regulatory relief (e.g., exceptions, exemptions, or other potential 
measures) that might be needed to facilitate the efforts to participate 
in the pilot program and conduct on-road research and testing involving 
these vehicles, especially those that lack controls for human drivers 
and thus may not comply with all existing safety standards. Fourth, 
with respect to the granting of exemptions to enable companies to 
participate in such a program, the Agency seeks comments on the nature 
of the safety and any other analyses that it should perform in 
assessing the merits of individual exemption petitions and on the types 
of terms and conditions it should consider attaching to exemptions to 
protect public safety and facilitate the Agency's monitoring and 
learning from the testing and deployment, while preserving the freedom 
to innovate.
    By developing a robust record of the answers to these important 
questions, NHTSA expects to learn more about the progress of ADS and 
the ways in which the Agency can facilitate safe and efficient ADS 
testing and deployment for the benefit of individual consumers and the 
traveling public as a whole.

DATES: Comments on this document are due no later than November 26, 
2018.

ADDRESSES: Comments must be identified by Docket Number NHTSA-2018-0092 
and may be submitted using any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, 
DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building, Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. 
and 5 p.m. E.T., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
    Regardless of how you submit your comments, you must include the 
docket number identified in the heading of this document. 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 202-366-9826.
    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 rulemaking process. DOT 
posts these comments, without edit, to www.regulations.gov, as 
described in the system of records notice, DOT/ALL-14 FDMS, accessible 
through www.dot.gov/privacy. In order to facilitate comment tracking 
and response, we encourage commenters to provide their name, or the 
name of their organization; however, submission of names is completely 
optional. Whether or not commenters identify themselves, all timely 
comments will be fully considered. If you wish to provide comments 
containing proprietary or confidential information, please contact the 
agency for alternate submission instructions.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 
    For research and pilot program issues: Dee Williams, Office of 
Vehicle Safety Research, (202) 366-8537, Dee.Williams@dot.gov, National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, 
Washington, DC 20590-0001.
    For legal issues: Stephen Wood, Assistant Chief Counsel, Vehicle 
Rulemaking and Harmonization, Office of Chief Counsel, 202-366-2992, 
email steve.wood@dot.gov, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Table of Contents

I. Background and Overview
II. NHTSA's Safety Mission, Authority and Programmatic Needs With 
Respect to ADS
    A. NHTSA Has Authority Over All Aspects of ADS
    B. NHTSA's Flexibility To Develop and Implement Non-Traditional 
Standards for ADS
    C. Research Is Needed To Generate Data on ADS
    D. Regulatory Relief May Be Needed To Facilitate Research 
Involving Vehicles With High and Full Driving Automation
    E. A Pilot Program Could Provide Relief and Promote Research on 
Ads
III. Pilot Program for the Safe Testing and Deploying of Vehicles 
With High and Full Driving Automation
    A. Considerations in Designing a Pilot Program
    1. Vehicle Design for Safe Operation
    2. Vehicle Design for Risk Mitigation
    3. Vehicle Design Safety Elements
    4. Data and Reporting
    5. Additional Considerations in Pilot Program Design
    6. Issues Relating To Establishing a Pilot Program
    i. Applications for Participation and Potential Terms of 
Participation
    ii. Potential Categories of Data To Be Provided by Program 
Participants
    B. Use of Exemptions To Provide Regulatory Relief for Pilot 
Program Participants
    1. Exemptions From Prohibitions Concerning Noncompliant Vehicles 
Under Section 30113
    2. Exemptions From Prohibitions Concerning Noncompliant Vehicles 
Under Section 30114
    3. Exemption From Rendering Inoperative Prohibition
    4. Other Potential Obstacles
IV. Confidentiality of Information Provided by Program Participants
V. Next Steps
VI. Regulatory Notices
VII. Public Comment

I. Background and Overview

    As the Federal agency charged with improving motor vehicle safety 
through reducing crashes, and preventing deaths

[[Page 50874]]

and injuries from crashes, NHTSA is encouraged by the new ADS vehicle 
technologies being developed and implemented by automobile 
manufacturers and other innovators. NHTSA anticipates that automation 
can serve a vital safety role on our Nation's roads, particularly since 
human error and choice are currently the critical factors behind the 
occurrence of a large number of crashes. ADS vehicle technologies 
possess the potential to save thousands of lives, as well as reduce 
congestion, enhance mobility, and improve productivity.
    To aid in determining how best to foster the safe development and 
implementation of ADS vehicle technologies on our Nation's roadways, 
NHTSA believes it is prudent to facilitate the conducting of research 
and gathering of data about these new and developing technologies in 
their various iterations and configurations. Thus, NHTSA is seeking 
comment on creating a national ADS vehicle pilot program for the 
testing of vehicles and associated equipment and to gather data from 
such testing, including data generated in real-world scenarios. NHTSA 
anticipates that this data will provide information needed to help 
realize the promises and meet the challenges of ADS vehicle development 
and deployment.
    The purpose of this ANPRM is to obtain public views and suggestions 
for steps that NHTSA can take to facilitate, monitor and learn from on-
road research through the safe testing and eventual deployment of high 
and full automated vehicles, i.e., Level 4 and 5 \1\ ADS vehicles, 
primarily through a pilot program.
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    \1\ See table below for explanations of these terms.
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    To explain these levels of automation and put them in context with 
the other levels defined by SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) 
International in Table 1 of SAE J3016,\2\ the Agency provides the 
following simplified description of the full array of levels:
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    \2\ SAE J3016_201806 Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Related 
to Driving Automation Systems for On-Road Motor Vehicles.

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                                     What does the vehicle do, what does
        Level of automation           the human driver/occupant do, and
                                        when and where do they do it?
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Level 0...........................  No Automation of driving task: While
                                     the vehicle may provide warnings
                                     (e.g., forward collision warning
                                     and blind-spot warning), the human
                                     driver must in all conditions and
                                     at all times perform all aspects of
                                     the driving task like monitoring
                                     the driving environment, steering,
                                     braking and accelerating.
Level 1...........................  Driver Assistance: The vehicle may
                                     have some features that can
                                     automatically assist the human
                                     driver with either steering (e.g.,
                                     lane keeping assist) or braking/
                                     accelerating (e.g., adaptive cruise
                                     control), but not with both
                                     simultaneously. The human driver
                                     performs all other aspects of the
                                     driving task like monitoring the
                                     driving environment, steering,
                                     braking and accelerating.
Level 2...........................  Partial Driving Automation: The
                                     vehicle has combined automated
                                     functions, like speed control and
                                     steering simultaneously, but the
                                     driver must remain engaged with the
                                     driving task by controlling the
                                     other elements of driving,
                                     monitoring the driving environment
                                     at all times, and being ready to
                                     take over immediately if conditions
                                     exceed the capabilities of the
                                     vehicle's automated functions.
Level 3...........................  Conditional Driving Automation: The
                                     vehicle can perform most aspects of
                                     the driving task, including
                                     monitoring the driving environment
                                     and making decisions, under some
                                     conditions (e.g., speeds under a
                                     set threshold). The presence of a
                                     human driver is still a necessity,
                                     but is not required to monitor the
                                     driving environment when the ADS is
                                     engaged and operating in those
                                     conditions. The driver must always
                                     be ready to intervene and take
                                     control of the vehicle when the ADS
                                     gives the driver notice to do so or
                                     the vehicle experiences a driving-
                                     task-related failure.
Level 4...........................  High Driving Automation: The vehicle
                                     can perform most aspects of the
                                     driving task under certain
                                     conditions without the involvement
                                     of or oversight by a human driver.
                                     Outside of those conditions, the
                                     vehicle will enter a safe fallback
                                     mode if a human occupant does not
                                     resume control. The vehicle may or
                                     may not be designed to allow a
                                     human occupant to assume control.
Level 5...........................  Full Driving Automation: The vehicle
                                     can perform all aspects of the
                                     driving task at all times and under
                                     all conditions. While the human
                                     occupants need to set the trip
                                     destination and start the ADS, they
                                     need never be involved in any
                                     aspects of the driving task. The
                                     vehicle may or may not be designed
                                     to allow a human occupant to assume
                                     control.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This ANPRM is the latest effort by DOT and NHTSA to address issues 
relating to the testing and deployment of vehicles with high and full 
driving automation. Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety 
(``A Vision for Safety''), issued by DOT in September 2017, included 
guidance to manufacturers and other entities seeking to document for 
themselves how they are addressing safety. It further outlined a 
summary document that they could use to disclose their voluntary safety 
self-assessments to the public in order to describe to the public, to 
stakeholders, and to Federal, State and local governments the 
manufacturers' approach to assuring safe testing and development.
    In a separate notice published in January 2018,\3\ the Agency took 
the next step by publishing a request for 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 automated motor vehicles. In that notice, 
NHTSA focused primarily, but not exclusively, on vehicles with certain 
unconventional interior designs, such as those 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. Further, the compliance test procedures of 
some FMVSS depend on the presence of such things as a human test driver 
who can follow test instructions or a steering wheel that can be used 
by an automated steering mechanism. In addressing all of these issues, 
the Agency's focus will be on ensuring the maintenance of currently 
required levels of safety performance.
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    \3\ 83 FR 2607, January 18, 2018.
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    This ANPRM focuses on the related question of how the Agency can 
best encourage and facilitate the necessary research to allow for the 
development and establishment, as needed, of standards for ADS 
vehicles, including vehicles that have unconventional designs, can 
operate in ``dual modes'' (one of which may involve unconventional 
designs), and can comply with the existing FMVSS.

[[Page 50875]]

    NHTSA believes that in order to anticipate, identify and address 
potential safety concerns and realize the full promise of ADS, it is 
vital that the developers of vehicles with high and full driving 
automation have broad opportunities to gain practical, real world 
experience, in locations of their choosing, with different approaches 
to, and combinations of, hardware and software in order to learn which 
approaches and combinations offer the greatest levels of safety and 
reliability. Simulated testing, or testing in laboratory or other 
controlled settings is very beneficial, but NHTSA also recognizes the 
importance of preparing for a world in which ADS vehicles operate on a 
broad scale on our Nation's roads under a vast array of complex and 
changing road, traffic and weather conditions. ADS must be able to 
operate in and adapt to such conditions, just as human drivers must 
when driving their vehicles today. On-the-road testing and evaluation 
of ADS vehicles will be critical to the successful development and 
integration of these vehicles into the roads and highways throughout 
the country.
    Based on the foregoing, NHTSA is considering the establishment of a 
national pilot research program. The Agency emphasizes that it has not 
made any decisions whether to establish a pilot program or how to 
structure one. For this reason, it cannot currently estimate the 
timing, cost or duration of a pilot program. After analyzing the public 
comments on this ANPRM and other available information, NHTSA will 
further assess the prospects for implementing a viable and effective 
program and identify the best approach to structuring one.

I. NHTSA's Safety Mission, Authority, and Programmatic Needs With 
Respect to ADS

    NHTSA, an operating administration within DOT, was established, as 
a successor to the National Highway Safety Bureau, by the Highway 
Safety Act of 1970 to carry out safety programs under the National 
Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 (``the Act'') and the 
Highway Safety Act of 1966. The Act directs the Department of 
Transportation ``(1) to prescribe motor vehicle safety standards for 
motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment in interstate commerce; and 
(2) to carry out needed safety research and development.'' \4\
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    \4\ 49 U.S.C. 30101.
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    Its vehicle safety mission is to save lives and prevent injuries 
due to road traffic crashes through a variety of means. More 
specifically, the Agency carries out its vehicle safety mission by:
     Collecting real world data on the safety of motor vehicles 
and items of motor vehicle equipment;
     Conducting safety research;
     Setting FMVSS for new motor vehicles and motor vehicle 
equipment (to which manufacturers must certify compliance before sale 
or introduction into interstate commerce).
     Enforcing compliance with the standards;
     Investigating and overseeing the recall and remedy of 
noncompliant products and products containing safety-related defects;
     Communicating with and educating the public about motor 
vehicle safety issues through comparative performance ratings and other 
means; and
     Issuing guidance for vehicle and equipment manufacturers 
to follow on important issues affecting safety.
    In addition, NHTSA works with State highway safety agencies and 
other partners under the Highway Safety Act to encourage the safe 
behavior of drivers, occupants, cyclists, and pedestrians across the 
country.

A. NHTSA Has Authority Over All Aspects of ADS Design

    NHTSA's authority over ADS is broad and clear. The Act obligates 
NHTSA to regulate the safety of motor vehicles and motor vehicle 
equipment.\5\ ``Motor vehicle equipment'' is defined broadly enough to 
include both tangible components, e.g., hardware, and intangible 
components, e.g., software, of modern electronic motor vehicle 
systems.\6\ Both types of components, working in combination, are 
indispensable to the functioning of modern vehicle electronic systems 
and critical to the future safety of the motor vehicle occupants, 
cyclists and pedestrians.\7\ Indeed, without their software components, 
these electronic systems would not be systems; instead, they would be 
nonfunctional assemblages of hardware components. Hardware and software 
components are also at the heart of each building block technology for 
vehicle automation and are indispensable to the combining of the 
technologies in ADS vehicles.
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    \5\ 49 U.S.C. 30111(a).
    \6\ 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(6) and (7).
    \7\ Transportation Research Board Special Report 308, The Safety 
Promise and Challenge of Automotive Electronics: Insights from 
Unintended Acceleration, 2012. The Board is part of the National 
Research Council which is, in turn, part of the National Academies. 
This report describes the challenges presented by electronic systems 
and what the report terms their ``hardware components'' and 
``software components.'' (P. 87). It is available on a number of 
online sites, including http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/sr/sr308.pdf and https://www.nap.edu/catalog/13342/trb-special-report-308-the-safety-challenge-and-promise-of-automotive-electronics and 
http://www.omg.org/hot-topics/documents/Safety-Promise-and-Challenge-of-Automotive-Electronics-TRB-2012.pdf.
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    As technology has evolved, NHTSA has responded to Congressional 
mandates to use its authority to specify how and when the hardware 
components of electronic systems such as air bags, anti-lock braking 
systems and electronic stability control systems must activate and 
perform. This approach gives manufacturers freedom to develop the 
software components needed to control the performance of each system's 
hardware components. NHTSA has also repeatedly exercised its authority 
under the Act when the software and/or hardware components of 
computerized electronics have been the subject of safety defect recall 
and remedy campaigns. Software updates have been the remedy for 
software found to contain a safety defect.\8\
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    \8\ To find vehicle safety recalls involving software, search 
for ``software'' in the monthly NHTSA recalls reports on the 
following web page, Monthly Reports: Recalls and Investigations, 
available at https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/monthlyreports.cfm. See also May 2016 report by J.D. Power that it 
had conducted an analysis of recalls under the Act showing that 
``(t)o date, 189 separate software recalls have been issued in the 
past 5 years, affecting more than 13 million vehicles. According to 
manufacturer analyses, 141 presented a risk of crashing; 44 could 
have resulted in injury.'' The results of this analysis may be found 
at http://www.jdpower.com/cars/articles/safety-and-mpg/record-numbers-software-complaints-and-recalls-threaten-trust.
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    NHTSA is also authorized to regulate certain other software, 
specifically, software that has functionality similar to that of the 
software in either a vehicle manufacturer's key fob/smart key or even 
some of the systems integrated into some current vehicles.\9\ Some of 
this software, e.g., that for remotely starting a vehicle's engine, 
affects motor vehicle systems only when the vehicles are parked, i.e., 
in circumstances called ``nonoperational'' safety. Other software, 
e.g., forward crash warning and remote automated parking systems, 
affects motor vehicles when they are moving, i.e., ``operational'' 
safety. The Act's definition of ``motor vehicle safety'' encompasses 
both aspects of safety.\10\
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    \9\ 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(8).
    \10\ 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(9).
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B. NHTSA's Flexibility To Develop and Implement Non-Traditional 
Standards for ADS

    NHTSA's primary exercise of its regulatory authority involves the 
development and establishment of the FMVSS.\11\ Under the Act, NHTSA's

[[Page 50876]]

FMVSS must meet a variety of requirements.\12\ They must be 
performance-oriented. They must be practicable, both technologically 
and economically. They must be objective, meaning that they must be 
capable of producing identical results when tests are conducted in 
identical conditions and compliance must be based on scientific 
measurements, not subjective opinion. Finally, they must meet the need 
for safety.
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    \11\ It is important to note that, even in the absence of 
standards, ADS-equipped vehicles must still be free from 
unreasonable risks to safety; if such risks do exist, the vehicle, 
component, or accessory would be subject to NHTSA's defect 
authority. See NHTSA Enforcement Guidance Bulletin 2016-02: Safety-
Related Defects and Automated Safety Technologies, 81 FR 65705, 
September 23, 2016.
    \12\ 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(10), 30111(a).
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    The FMVSS can address all aspects and phases of ensuring that new 
motor vehicles are designed and perform safely. NHTSA can establish 
crash avoidance standards to reduce the chance that a vehicle will 
become involved in a crash or cause another vehicle to become involved 
in crash or reduce the severity of crashes that cannot be avoided. 
Likewise, NHTSA can issue crashworthiness standards requiring that a 
vehicle be designed so that its occupants are less likely to be 
seriously injured in a crash and so that it is less likely to cause 
injury to the occupants of other vehicles or other roadway users such 
as pedestrians and cyclists. In addition, NHTSA can issue standards for 
post-crash safety, such as minimizing the risk of electrical fires.
    NHTSA believes that the FMVSS structure has the necessary 
flexibility to regulate the design and performance of ADS 
appropriately. Although the existing FMVSS rely on physical tests and 
measurements to evaluate safety performance, there is no requirement in 
the Act that they rely exclusively or even at all on such tests and 
measurements so long as they are objective and meet the other statutory 
requirements. In the future, other approaches such as simulation and 
requirements expressed in terms of mathematical functions might be 
considered.\13\
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    \13\ NHTSA notes that its Corporate Average Fuel Economy 
Standards are required to be stated in terms of a mathematical 
function. 49 U.S.C. 32902(b)(3)(A).
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    In addition, because the software environment is likely to evolve 
and change at a rapid rate, NHTSA recognizes that it will need a new 
approach to the development and drafting of FMVSS, especially any FMVSS 
that might be established for ADS. The accelerating pace of 
technological change is incompatible with lengthy rulemaking 
proceedings that last at least 6-8 years from initiating rulemaking to 
conducting research to translating the research results into regulatory 
text to conducting and completing a notice and comment rulemaking. 
Further, the FMVSS of the future will need to be reconceptualized, 
developed and drafted so that they are nimbler, more performance-
oriented and thus more accommodating of anticipated and continued rapid 
technological change than has generally been the case for the FMVSS to 
date.
    Similarly, although existing FMVSS generally address specific 
predictable events (e.g., stopping and turning safely on low friction 
surfaces, specific types of crashes), it may be desirable, even 
necessary, to meet the need for safety, for future FMVSS focused on ADS 
technologies to also address the common, yet unpredictable, events that 
occur in real-world driving, e.g., the one person among crowds of 
people standing on two or more corners of an intersection who suddenly 
decides to cross the street, the approaching vehicle that suddenly 
turns left, the parked vehicle that suddenly leaves its parking place, 
and the vehicle that suddenly emerges from a blind alley or other 
obscured location. Test procedures could replicate those events, 
including their unpredictability. A degree of unpredictability might be 
accomplished by varying the location of standardized surrogate 
vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians on a test course and the sequence in 
which they are encountered during testing. A sufficient degree of 
randomization could help avoid the risks that using a completely 
predictable test procedure might create, i.e., that a test vehicle 
could be programmed to anticipate the predictable encounters with 
surrogate objects and avoid a collision with them by being pre-
programmed to do so, not by relying on its sensors and decision-making 
algorithms.
    Further, future FMVSS could test the ability of ADS vehicles to 
monitor not only simple scenarios involving a single surrogate 
pedestrian or vehicle, but also more complex and realistic scenarios 
involving multiple surrogate pedestrians and vehicles and their ability 
to identify and respond appropriately to all surrogate pedestrians and 
vehicles without the ADS vehicles' knowing in advance precisely which 
pedestrian or vehicle would move and when into their path.
    Finally, future FMVSS could be drafted in more technology-neutral 
performance terms than many of the existing technology-specific FMVSS. 
This approach may allow for the development and deployment of cutting-
edge technology, as long as FMVSS performance mandates are satisfied. 
This approach could allow for testing and deployment of critical safety 
equipment without requiring time-consuming regulatory amendments to 
respond to changes in technology.

C. Research Is Needed To Generate Data on ADS

    In order to establish standards that ensure safety without 
jeopardizing innovation, NHTSA must conduct significant research, as 
well as leverage research conducted by outside entities, including 
industry and universities. When the Act was enacted, Congress 
recognized the importance of research, development, testing, and 
evaluation, and provided ``broad authority to initiate and conduct'' 
those activities.\14\ Additionally, Congress recognized that safety 
standards ``cannot be set in a vacuum. They must be based on reliable 
information and research.'' \15\
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    \14\ S. Rep. No. 89-1301, at 9 (June 23, 1966).
    \15\ H.R. Rep. No. 89-1776, at 11 (July 28, 1966); see also S. 
Rep. No. 89-1301, at 9.
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    In the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act,\16\ 
Congress reiterated and strengthened NHTSA's role in conducting 
research, particularly in areas of innovative technology, and directed 
that ``[t]he Secretary of Transportation shall conduct research, 
development, and testing on any area or aspect of motor vehicle safety 
necessary to carry out this chapter.'' \17\ In carrying out this 
directive, Congress instructed the Secretary to ``[c]onduct motor 
vehicle safety research, development, and testing programs and 
activities, including activities related to new and emerging 
technologies that impact or may impact motor vehicle safety'' and to 
``[c]ollect and analyze all types of motor vehicle and highway safety 
data'' relating to motor vehicle performance and crashes.\18\ Further, 
the Secretary was given broad authority to ``enter into cooperative 
agreements, collaborative research, or contracts with Federal agencies, 
interstate authorities, State and local governments, other public 
entities, private organizations and persons,'' and other appropriate 
institutions.\19\
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    \16\ Public Law 112-141.
    \17\ 49 U.S.C. 30181.
    \18\ 49 U.S.C. 30182(a) (emphasis added).
    \19\ Id. at Sec.  30182(b)(5).
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    To aid in determining how best to foster the safe introduction of 
vehicles with high and full driving automation onto our Nation's 
roadways, NHTSA seeks to facilitate research and data gathering 
involving these new and developing technologies in their various 
iterations and configurations. The

[[Page 50877]]

Agency wants the entities involved in this research to gain practical, 
real world experience to determine the best approaches to enhancing 
safety. This research is expected to generate the data needed to assist 
in developing methods of validating the safety performance of vehicles 
with high and full driving automation. NHTSA recognizes both the safety 
potential of ADS and the need to ensure that all testing and operation 
of vehicles with high and full driving automation are conducted in a 
manner that ensures the appropriate levels of safety for everyone 
involved--and most importantly, all roadway users.

D. Regulatory Relief May Be Needed To Facilitate Research Involving 
Vehicles With High and Full Driving Automation

    In the separate notice on barriers mentioned above, NHTSA stated 
that it believes that vehicles with traditional interior designs, e.g., 
ones including steering wheels and foot pedals, that meet the existing 
FMVSS would still comply with the FMVSS even if those vehicles were 
designed to be operated as vehicles with high and full driving 
automation. However, vehicles with high and full driving automation 
that do not have traditional designs might not meet the existing FMVSS 
and would, therefore, require an exemption. NHTSA's statutes provide 
two separate avenues under sections 30113 and 30114 \20\ for an 
exemption of vehicles that do not comply with the standards and another 
process designed for vehicles that would initially comply with the 
standard, but also may need exemptions if they operate in ``dual 
modes,'' one of which could run afoul of NHTSA's ``make inoperative'' 
prohibition.\21\ Under both types of exemptions, NHTSA may set terms by 
which the exempted entity must abide.
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    \20\ 49 U.S.C. 30113 and 30114. These two sections, including 
relevant statutory text, are discussed below in parts III.B.1 and 
III.B.2 of this ANPRM.
    \21\ Certain ADS vehicles that do not comply with existing 
standards are currently allowed to be introduced into interstate 
commerce if they meet the requirements in section 30112(b)(10). The 
section excepts motor vehicles from the prohibition in section 
30112(a)(1) against introducing a noncompliant motor vehicle into 
commerce, but, among other constraints, only if the vehicle is 
introduced by a manufacturer solely for the purpose of its being 
tested and evaluated on public roads, only for vehicle manufacturers 
that manufactured and distributed compliant vehicles in the United 
States before December 4, 2015, and only if those vehicles are not 
sold after the conclusion of testing. Importantly, then, this 
exception is limited in both which manufacturers can take advantage 
of it and what can be done while using it.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In this document, NHTSA announces that it is contemplating creating 
an ADS vehicle pilot research program for the testing of vehicles and 
associated equipment and gathering of data from such testing, including 
in real-world scenarios, which the Agency would consider as setting the 
terms of the exemptions. NHTSA anticipates that these data will provide 
needed information that will better enable the public and private 
sectors to realize the promises and overcome the challenges of vehicles 
with high and full driving automation.

E. A Pilot Program Can Provide Relief and Promote Research on ADS

    To summarize, NHTSA's authority covers all relevant aspects of ADS 
design, including vehicles with high and full driving automation. 
NHTSA, therefore, has an affirmative duty to establish the measures 
necessary to ensure the safe design and operation of these types of 
vehicles. However, to do so in a way that actually achieves those 
safety goals and does not unnecessarily impede innovation requires 
significant research on these cutting-edge issues. Due to the 
complexity of real-world driving, this research cannot simply be done 
in laboratories or other highly controlled testing environments and, 
instead, part of it must be done on public roads with real driving 
conditions. To help ensure that this testing is being done safely and 
with an eye towards developing the data necessary to support such 
future standards as may be needed, NHTSA is considering establishing a 
pilot program for vehicles with high and full driving automation for 
entities wishing to engage in the testing or, in some cases, deployment 
of vehicles with high and full driving automation that would require 
some type of an exemption from NHTSA's existing standards. The Agency 
believes that such a program could aid developers of vehicles with high 
and full driving automation in testing and deploying their vehicles 
across the country in a wide variety of scenarios, e.g., different 
climates, weather patterns, topographical features, road systems, 
population and traffic densities, etc.

III. Pilot Program for the Safe Testing and Deployment of Vehicles With 
High and Full Driving Automation

    Technological innovations in automotive transportation are diverse 
and evolving quickly in the United States and abroad. The potential 
safety benefits that could result from deploying vehicles with high and 
full driving automation justify a considered approach at the Federal, 
State and local levels to the design and implementation of pilot 
programs for the safe testing, learning and eventual deploying of these 
vehicles, including on public roadways.
    Safety is a primary concern and is the primary mission of NHTSA. 
The issuance of this ANPRM on pilot program design is intended to 
stimulate public discussion of both safety aspects of new technology 
testing and development, as well as approaches to learning from pilot 
programs for technological improvement and eventual deployment. NHTSA 
acknowledges that there are also mobility, efficiency and accessibility 
opportunities associated with ADS and that infrastructure could play a 
key role in the broader operational availability of these technologies. 
Numerous companies, researchers, safety advocates, State and local 
governments, and other stakeholders are engaged in, planning to become 
engaged in or otherwise interested in the design, development, testing, 
and deployment of vehicles with high and full driving automation. NHTSA 
recognizes that it is restricted in its ability to apply requirements 
to certain manufacturers testing vehicles on public highways if the 
manufacturers agree not to offer for sale or sell those vehicles.\22\ 
Discussion of pilot program design and implementation does not assume 
that such regulatory and statutory limits are either appropriate or 
necessary, but rather that pilot programs might require NHTSA to 
address certain barriers.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \22\ 49 U.S.C. 30112(b)(10).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Further, pilot programs should anticipate the need to coordinate 
Federal, State and local governments' responsibilities and efforts and 
should recognize other Federal agencies, and State and local 
governments are effective sources of information needed for risk 
management as ADS technology approaches deployment. State and local 
governments have traditionally played important roles in motor vehicle 
and road safety, through enforcement, traffic management and planning, 
research, and much more. It is critical to NHTSA to partner effectively 
with State and local governments to permit them to continue these 
important functions while the Agency works collaboratively to 
facilitate the safe and efficient deployment of ADS technology.
    Finally, at this stage, NHTSA is only considering a pilot program 
for light-duty vehicles; to the extent the Agency will consider 
establishing future pilot projects for other motor vehicles, such as 
truck tractors or buses, it will do so in coordination with the other 
relevant operating administrations within the Department.
    Questions.

[[Page 50878]]

    In furtherance of the goals of this ANPRM, NHTSA requests 
interested persons to answer a variety of questions about the structure 
of a national pilot program and about the types of regulatory relief 
that may be needed to make such a program successful. The views and 
information provided in response to those that will aid the Agency in 
deciding whether to create a national program and, if so, how to do so.
    Guidance on answering questions.
    In responding to each question, please provide data, analyses, 
research reports or other justification to support your response. In 
addition, please respond to the questions and requests in the same 
sequence in which they appear below and include the number of each 
question and request.
    Question 1. What potential factors should be considered in 
designing the structure of a pilot program that would enable the Agency 
to facilitate, monitor and learn from on-road research through the safe 
testing and eventual deployment of vehicles with high and full driving 
automation and associated equipment?
    Question 2. If NHTSA were to create a pilot program, how long would 
there be a need for such a program? What number of vehicles should be 
involved? Should NHTSA encourage the conducting of research projects in 
multiple locations with different weather conditions, topographical 
features, traffic densities, etc.?
    Question 3. What specific difficulties should be addressed in 
designing a national vehicle pilot program for vehicles with high and 
full driving automation either through the exemption request process 
relevant for FMVSS or more broadly related to other areas of NHTSA and/
or other authorities.
    Question 4. How can existing statutory provisions and regulations 
be more effectively used in implementing such a pilot program?
    Question 5. Are there any additional elements of regulatory relief 
(e.g., exceptions, exemptions, or other potential measures) that might 
be needed to facilitate the efforts to participate in the pilot program 
and conduct on-road research and testing involving these vehicles, 
especially those that lack controls for human drivers and thus may not 
comply with all existing FMVSS?

A. Considerations in Designing the Pilot Program

    NHTSA believes that a safe and effective pilot program for vehicles 
with high and full driving automation would necessarily address each of 
the following critical areas: (1) Vehicle design for safe operation; 
(2) vehicle design for risk mitigation in the event of an unplanned 
event; (3) vehicle design for intended operating conditions; and (4) 
data reporting and information sharing to identify and mitigate risks 
identified during the pilot program.
1. Vehicle Design for Safe Operation
    As described above, NHTSA has long assessed vehicle attributes for 
safe operation under reasonably anticipated conditions. Such an 
assessment has historically included detailed elements of structural 
integrity and design, as well as hardware, software and 
telecommunications elements that contribute to either operational or 
nonoperational vehicle safety.
    NHTSA believes that vehicles with high and full driving automation 
participating in pilot programs for testing and evaluation and eventual 
deployment should continue to meet most FMVSS for the protection of 
vehicle occupants, pedestrians, and other vulnerable road users. 
However, in the case of certain elements, safety might be enhanced 
through approaches different than those contained in the current FMVSS, 
given that they were developed for vehicles designed only for human 
operation.
    As noted above, NHTSA has issued a Request for Comment regarding 
those provisions in the FMVSS that may pose barriers for the design, 
testing and deployment of some safe vehicles with high and full driving 
automation.
    Question 6. What vehicle design elements might replace existing 
required safety equipment and/or otherwise enhance vehicle safety under 
reasonably anticipated operating conditions?
2. Vehicle Design for Risk Mitigation
    As described in section I (overview) above, the primary difference 
between lower level driving automation systems and high and full 
driving automation systems is the reliance in the latter systems on the 
vehicle to perform all driving functions in at least certain 
circumstances. It is anticipated that vehicles with high and full 
driving automation will accomplish this through the combination of 
highly sophisticated detection systems, systems for digital 
interpretation of detected objects, data retention and processing, 
communication protocols, and highly sophisticated decision-making 
software. Together, this combination of functions is intended to 
replace and improve upon the ability of human drivers to detect, 
interpret, communicate and react to vehicle operational needs and 
conditions.
    Some vehicles with high driving automation will require an 
additional design consideration to address human-machine interface when 
operating outside of their Operational Design Domain.\23\ Specifically, 
given the reliance of those vehicles on vehicle, and not human, 
systems, the design of those vehicles should account for both the 
vehicle and human elements of any transition from one type of driver 
(human or vehicle) to another type of driver (vehicle or human).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \23\ The Operational Design Domain describes the specific 
conditions under which a given ADS or feature is intended to 
function. More specifically, it defines where (such as what roadway 
types and speeds) and when (under what conditions, such as day/
night, weather limits, etc.) an ADS is designed to operate.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In A Vision for Safety, the Department of Transportation described 
a voluntary safety self-disclosure approach recommended to innovators 
seeking to test and deploy vehicles with high and full driving 
automation on public roadways.
    NHTSA's existing authorities under the Act, e.g., provisions 
concerning research, standard setting and consumer information, are 
adequate for NHTSA to evaluate and recommend protocols to ensure the 
safety of vehicle design for risk mitigation. In fact, NHTSA has 
already developed and adopted protocols for a wide variety of 
technologies for use in either the FMVSS or the New Car Assessment 
Program. Examples include anti-lock braking systems, electronic 
stability control, automatic emergency braking, and lane departure 
warning.
    Furthermore, NHTSA's authorities supporting the current FMVSS 
program are adequate and appropriate for developing very broadly 
drafted safety performance standards that might be necessary for the 
eventual safe widespread deployment on public roadways of vehicles with 
high and full driving automation. Such performance standards should 
allow for unencumbered innovation where such innovation provides 
equivalent or improved safety for future transportation designs when 
compared to the safety of human drivers. For example, future 
performance-based standards might include standards and testing for 
safe lane change performance on highways, hazard detection and 
avoidance in urban environments, or collision avoidance on rural 
highways.
    Question 7. What types of performance measures should be considered 
to ensure safety while allowing for innovation of emerging

[[Page 50879]]

technology in vehicles with high and full driving automation 
participating in a pilot program?
3. Vehicle Design Safety Elements
    A Vision for Safety seeks to help designers of ADS to analyze, 
identify, and resolve safety considerations prior to deployment by 
using their own, industry, and other best practices. It outlines 12 
safety elements, which the Agency believes represent the consensus 
across the industry, that are generally considered to be the most 
salient design aspects to consider and address when developing, 
testing, and deploying ADS on public roadways. Within each safety 
design element, entities are encouraged to consider and document for 
themselves their use of industry standards, best practices, company 
policies, or other methods they have employed to provide for increased 
system safety in real-world conditions.
    For example, vehicles with high and full driving automation are 
currently tested and deployed in carefully risk-managed phases to allow 
for safe operation during development of increasingly complex systems. 
As described in A Vision for Safety, the circumstances in which the 
automated operation of a vehicle is enabled are set forth in the 
vehicle's Operational Design Domain.
    NHTSA believes that any pilot program for the testing of vehicles 
with high and full driving automation should include defined 
Operational Design Domains as a component of safe automated vehicle 
operation. Examples of an Operational Design Domain include, but are 
not limited to, geographic, environmental or other conditions in which 
the vehicle is designed to operate, detect and respond safely to a 
variety of normal and unexpected objects and events, and to fall back 
to a minimal risk condition in the event that the ADS fails or that the 
ADS encounters conditions outside the Operational Design Domain.
    NHTSA has historically regulated the enabling conditions for safety 
systems, such as air bags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability 
control, that are designed to intervene when certain conditions, and 
only those conditions, exist. NHTSA believes that the critical 
relationship between the safety of a vehicle's design and the vehicle's 
decision-making system similarly makes it necessary to evaluate the 
safety of automated vehicle performance in light of appropriate and 
well-defined Operational Design Domains. For example, if a vehicle is 
capable of safely operating automatically only at speeds below 30 mph, 
NHTSA might consider whether it would be appropriate to require that 
the vehicle be designed so that it cannot operate automatically at 
speeds of 30 mph or more unless and until it acquires the capability 
(e.g., through software updates) of safely operating automatically 
above that speed. Similarly, if a vehicle would become incapable of 
operating safely if one or more of its sensors became non-functional, 
NHTSA might consider whether it would be appropriate to require that 
the vehicle be designed so that it cannot operate automatically in 
those circumstances.
    State and local authorities also have a role to play. Through 
establishing and enforcing their rules of the road, these authorities 
have traditionally controlled such operational matters as the speed at 
which vehicles may be driven and the condition of certain types of 
safety equipment such as head and tail lights. In the future, it is 
reasonable to expect that these authorities may establish new rules of 
the road to address ADS vehicles specifically. While NHTSA might 
require the manufacturers of these vehicles to design them so that 
their vehicles know the State and locality in which they are operating 
and what the rules of the road are for that location and so that they 
observe those rules, the States and localities would enforce those 
rules if broken.
    Question 8. How should the Operational Design Domains of individual 
vehicle models be defined and reinforced and how should Federal, State 
and local authorities work together to ensure that they are observed?
4. Data and Reporting
    The purpose of a pilot program is to allow for safe on-road testing 
and on-road learning in order to provide feedback for further safe 
development. An important element of any pilot program is the creation, 
sharing and appropriate use of performance data to allow constant 
improvement to the test technology and improved risk management.
    NHTSA believes that the novel challenge of assessing the safety of 
the emerging technologies in vehicles with high and full driving 
automation requires a commitment to timely and accurate data reporting 
and analysis.
    Question 9. What type and amount of data should participants be 
expected to share with NHTSA and/or with the public for the safe 
testing of vehicles with high and full driving automation and how 
frequently should the sharing occur?
    Question 10. In the design of a pilot program, how should NHTSA 
address the following issues--
    a. confidential business information?
    b. privacy?
    c. data storage and transmission?
    d. data retention and reporting?
    e. other elements necessary for testing and deployment?
5. Additional Considerations in Pilot Program Design
    NHTSA seeks comments on whether there are additional critical areas 
to consider in the design of a safe pilot program for the testing and 
deployment of vehicles with high and full driving automation.
    Question 11. In the design of a pilot program, what role should be 
played by--
    a. The 12 safety elements listed in A Vision for Safety?
    b. The elements listed below,
    i. Failure risk analysis and reduction during design process 
(functional safety)?
    ii. Objective performance criteria, testable scenarios and test 
procedures for evaluating crash avoidance performance of vehicles with 
high and full driving automation?
    iii. Third party evaluation?
    A. Failure risk reduction?
    B. Crash avoidance performance of vehicles with high and full 
driving automation?
    iv. Occupant/non-occupant protection from injury in the event of a 
crash (crashworthiness)?
    v. Assuring safety of software updates?
    vi. Consumer education?
    vii. Post deployment Agency monitoring?
    viii. Post-deployment ADS updating, maintenance and recalibration?
    c. Are there any other elements that should be considered?
    Question 12. Are there any additional critical areas to consider in 
the design of a safe pilot program for the testing and deployment of 
vehicles with high and full driving automation?
6. Issues Relating To Establishing a Pilot Program
    In addition to the general issues identified above, NHTSA requests 
comment on the following questions related to the development of the 
potential pilot program.
i. Applications for Participation and Potential Terms of Participation
    Question 13. Which of the following matters should NHTSA consider 
requiring parties that wish to participate in the pilot program to 
address in their applications?

[[Page 50880]]

    a. ``Safety case'' for vehicles to be used in the pilot program 
(e.g., system safety analysis (including functional safety analysis), 
demonstration of safety capability based on objective performance 
criteria, testable scenarios and test procedures, adherence to NHTSA's 
existing voluntary guidance, including the submission of a voluntary 
safety self-assessment, and third party review of those materials).
    i. What methodology should the Agency use in assessing whether an 
exempted ADS vehicle would offer a level of safety equivalent to that 
of a nonexempted vehicle? For example, what methodology should the 
Agency use in assessing whether an ADS vehicle steers and brakes at 
least as effectively, appropriately and timely as an average human 
driver?
    b. Description of research goals, methods, objectives, and expected 
results.
    c. Test design (e.g., route complexity, weather and related road 
surface conditions, illumination and institutional review board 
assessment).
    d. Considerations for other road users (e.g., impacts on vulnerable 
road users and proximity of such persons to the vehicle).
    e. Reporting of data, e.g., reporting of crashes/incidents to NHTSA 
within 24 hours of their occurrence.
    f. Recognition that participation does not negate the Agency's 
investigative or enforcement authority, e.g., independent of any 
exemptions that the Agency might issue to program participants and 
independent of any terms that the Agency might establish on those 
exemptions, the Agency could conduct defect investigations and order 
recalls of any defective vehicles involved in the pilot program. 
Further, the Agency could investigate the causes of crashes of vehicles 
involved in the program.
    g. Adherence to recognized practices for standardizing the 
gathering and reporting of certain types of data in order to make 
possible the combining of data from different sources and the making of 
statistically stronger findings.
    h. For which types of data would standardization be necessary in 
order to make such findings and why?
    i. To what extent would standardization be necessary for those 
types?
    j. Occupant/non-occupant protection from injury in the event of a 
crash (crashworthiness).
    k. Assuring safety of software updates.
    l. Consumer education.
    m. Post-deployment monitoring.
    n. Post-deployment maintenance and calibration considerations.
    Question 14. What types of terms and conditions should NHTSA 
consider attaching to exemptions to enhance public safety and 
facilitate the Agency's monitoring and learning from the testing and 
deployment, while preserving the freedom to innovate, including terms 
and conditions for each of the subjects listed in question 13? What 
other subjects should be considered, and why?
ii. Potential Categories of Data To Be Provided by Program Participants
    Question 15. What value would there be in NHTSA's obtaining one or 
more of the following potential categories of data from the 
participants in the pilot program? Are there other categories of data 
that should be considered? How should these categories of data be 
defined?
    a. Statistics on use (e.g., for each functional class of roads, the 
number of miles, speed, hours of operation, climate/weather and related 
road surface conditions).
    b. Statistics and other information on outcome (e.g., type, number 
and cause of crashes or near misses, injuries, fatalities, 
disengagements, and transitions to fallback mechanisms, if 
appropriate).
    c. Vehicle/scene/injury/roadway/traffic data and description for 
each crash or near miss (e.g., system status, pre-crash information, 
injury outcomes).
    d. Sensor data from each crash or near miss (e.g., raw sensor data, 
perception system output, and control action).
    e. Mobility performance impacts of vehicles with high and full 
driving automation, including string stability of multiple consecutive 
ADS vehicles and the effects of ADS on vehicle spacing, which could 
ultimately impact flow safety, and public acceptance.
    f. Difficult scenarios (e.g., scenarios in which the system gave 
control back to an operator or transitioned to its safe state by, for 
example, disabling itself to a slow speed or stopped position).
    g. Software updates (e.g., reasons for updates, extent to which 
updates are made to each vehicle for which the updates are intended, 
effects of updates).
    h. Metrics that the manufacturer is tracking to identify and 
respond to progress (e.g., miles without a crash and software updates 
that increase the operating domain).
    i. Information related to community, driver and pedestrian 
awareness, behavior, concerns and acceptance related to vehicles with 
high and full driving automation operation. For example, if vehicles 
with high and full driving automation operated only in limited defined 
geographic areas, might that affect the routing choices of vehicles 
without high and full driving automation? For another example, if 
vehicles with high and full driving automation are programmed to cede 
right of way to avoid collision with other vehicles and with 
pedestrians and cyclists, might some drivers of vehicles without such 
automation, pedestrians and cyclists take advantage of this fact and 
force vehicles with high and full driving automation to yield to them?
    j. Metrics or information concerning the durability of the ADS 
equipment and calibration, and need for maintenance of the ADS.
    k. Data from ``control groups'' that could serve as a useful 
baseline against which to compare the outcomes of the vehicle 
participating in the pilot program.
    l. If there are other categories of data that should be considered, 
please identify them and the purposes for which they would be useful to 
the Agency in carrying out its responsibilities under the Act.
    m. Given estimates that vehicles with high and full driving 
automation would generate terabytes of data per vehicle per day, how 
should the need for data be appropriately balanced with the burden on 
manufacturers of providing it and the ability of the Agency to absorb 
and use it effectively?
    n. How would submission of a safety assurance letter help to 
promote public safety and build public confidence and acceptance?
    o. For all of the above categories of information, how should the 
Agency handle any concerns about confidential business information and 
privacy?

B. Use of Exemptions To Provide Regulatory Relief for Pilot Program 
Participants

    As discussed above, NHTSA has several means to provide regulatory 
relief for vehicles with high and full driving automation whose 
innovative designs make compliance with existing regulations 
impracticable or impossible. In this document, the Agency has outlined 
and requested comment on a potential pilot program for these vehicles, 
to encourage and facilitate the necessary research and data to ensure 
their safe deployment and allow NHTSA to determine how to appropriately 
evaluate and regulate these vehicles.
    As part of this pilot program, NHTSA is considering what effect 
participation in the pilot program could have on the exemption process 
and vice versa.
    Question 16. How should the Agency analyze safety in deciding 
whether to

[[Page 50881]]

grant such exemptions under each of the separate bases for exemptions 
in section 30113? Can the exemption process be used to facilitate safe 
and effective ADS development in an appropriate manner?
    Question 17. Could a single pilot program make use of multiple 
statutory sources of exemptions or would different pilot programs be 
needed, one program for each source of exemption?
    Question 18. To what extent would NHTSA need to implement the 
program via new regulation or changes to existing regulation? 
Conversely, could NHTSA implement the program through a non-regulatory 
process? Would the answer to that question change based upon which 
statutory exemption provision the agency based the program on?
1. Exemptions From Prohibitions Concerning Noncompliant Vehicles Under 
Section 30113
    Section 30112, except as otherwise provided, e.g., under sections 
30113 and 30114, prohibits any person from manufacturing for sale, 
selling, offering for sale, introducing or delivering for introduction 
in interstate commerce, or importing into the United States, any motor 
vehicle or motor vehicle equipment manufactured on or after the date an 
applicable FMVSS takes effect unless the vehicle or equipment complies 
with the standard and is covered by a certification issued under 
section 30115 of the Act.\24\ Under section 30113, upon application by 
a vehicle manufacturer, NHTSA may exempt, on a temporary basis, motor 
vehicles from a FMVSS, on terms the Agency considers appropriate, if it 
finds that--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \24\ 49 U.S.C. 30112(a)(1).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (a) an exemption is consistent with the public interest and this 
chapter or chapter 325 of this title (as applicable); and either
    (b)
    (i) compliance with the standard would cause substantial economic 
hardship to a manufacturer that has tried to comply with the standard 
in good faith;
    (ii) the exemption would make easier the development or field 
evaluation of a new motor vehicle safety feature providing a safety 
level at least equal to the safety level of the standard;
    (iii) the exemption would make the development or field evaluation 
of a low-emission motor vehicle easier and would not unreasonably lower 
the safety level of that vehicle; or
    (iv) compliance with the standard would prevent the manufacturer 
from selling a motor vehicle with an overall safety level at least 
equal to the overall safety level of nonexempt vehicles.\25\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \25\ 49 U.S.C. 30113.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A manufacturer is eligible for an economic hardship exemption only 
if the manufacturer's total motor vehicle production in the most recent 
year of production is not more than 10,000. An economic hardship 
exemption can be granted for not more than 3 years, although it can be 
renewed. Any manufacturer, regardless of its total production, is 
eligible for an exemption on the other three bases listed in the 
paragraph immediately above, but only if the exemption is for not more 
than 2,500 vehicles to be sold in the United States in any 12-month 
period. Exemptions on these three bases may be granted for not more 
than 2 years and can be renewed.
    Over the years, NHTSA has granted numerous exemptions under the 
``substantial economic hardship'' criteria, but relatively few under 
the other three bases. This proportion may change in the future. The 
use of the other three bases for granting petitions for the exemption 
of vehicles with high and full driving automation may become 
increasingly important prior to the development of ADS-specific 
standards.
    Since the Act does not contain any prohibitions regarding the use 
of a motor vehicle, whether compliant or noncompliant, once a 
manufacturer receives an exemption from the prohibitions of section 
30112(a)(1), the use of those vehicles is controlled only to the extent 
that NHTSA sets terms on the exemption. Its authority to set terms is 
broad. Since the terms would be the primary means of ensuring the safe 
operation of those vehicles, the Agency would consider carefully what 
types of terms to establish. The manufacturer would need to agree to 
abide by the terms set for that exemption in order to begin and 
continue producing vehicles pursuant to that exemption. Thus, if NHTSA 
were to establish the collaborative pilot research program for such 
vehicles discussed in this document, it could establish, for example, 
reporting terms to ensure a continuing flow of information to the 
Agency during and after the period of exemption to meet the Agency's, 
as well as the manufacturer's, research needs. Since only a very small 
portion of the total mileage that the exempted vehicles could be 
expected to travel during their useful life would have been driven by 
the end of the exemption period, it might be desirable for the data to 
be reported over a longer period of time to enable the Agency to make 
sufficiently reliable judgements. Such judgments might include a 
retrospective review of the judgments that the Agency made, at the time 
of granting the petition, about the anticipated safety effects of the 
exemption. Regardless of the period specified for reporting, NHTSA 
could also establish terms to specify what the consequences would be if 
the flow of information were to cease or become inadequate during or 
after the exemption period. NHTSA's regulations in 49 CFR part 555 
provide that the Agency can revoke an exemption if a manufacturer fails 
to satisfy the terms of the exemption.
    Question 19. How could the exemption process in section 30113 be 
used to facilitate a pilot program? For vehicles with high and full 
driving automation that lack means of manual control, how should NHTSA 
consider their participation, including their continued participation, 
in the pilot program in determining whether a vehicle would meet the 
statutory criteria for an exemption under section 30113? More 
specifically:
    a. Would participation assist a manufacturer in showing that an 
exemption from a FMVSS would facilitate the development or field 
evaluation of a new motor vehicle safety feature providing a safety 
level at least equal to the safety level of the FMVSS, as required to 
obtain an exemption under section 30113(b)(ii)? If so, please explain 
how.
    b. Would participation assist a manufacturer in showing that 
compliance with the FMVSS would prevent the manufacturer from selling a 
motor vehicle with an overall safety level at least equal to the 
overall safety level of nonexempt vehicles, as required to obtain an 
exemption under section 30113(b)(iv)? If so, please explain how.
    c. The Agency requests comment on what role a pilot program could 
play in determining when to grant an exemption from the ``make 
inoperative'' prohibition under section 30122 for certain ``dual mode'' 
vehicles. Relatedly, what tools does NHTSA have to incentivize vehicles 
with high and full driving automation that have means of manual control 
and thus do not need an exemption to participate in the pilot program?
2. Exemptions From Prohibitions Concerning Noncompliant Vehicles Under 
Section 30114
    Next, under section 30114, the ``Secretary of Transportation may 
exempt a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment from section 
30112(a) of this title, on terms the Secretary decides are necessary, 
for

[[Page 50882]]

research, investigations, demonstrations, training, competitive racing 
events, show, or display.'' \26\ NHTSA has historically focused these 
types of exemptions on the noncompliant vehicles made outside the U.S. 
However, NHTSA is examining whether the language of section 30114 gives 
NHTSA the discretion to create a level playing field by expanding the 
coverage of exemption under that section to any vehicle, regardless of 
whether it is domestic or foreign, that meets the criteria of that 
section, particularly vehicles with high and full driving automation 
that do not meet existing standards and whose manufacturers are or seek 
to become engaged in research and demonstrations involving those 
vehicles. If so, NHTSA would be able to establish the terms with which 
a participant would need to comply in order to receive and continue to 
enjoy the benefits of an exemption. Such terms could include a wide 
variety of matters, including participation in a pilot program.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \26\ 49 U.S.C. 30114.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Question 20. What role could exemptions under section 30114 play in 
the pilot program? Could participation in the pilot program assist a 
manufacturer in qualifying for an exemption under section 30114? Could 
participation be considered part of the terms the Secretary determines 
are necessary to be granted an exemption under section 30114 for 
vehicles that are engaged in ``research, investigations, 
demonstrations, training, competitive racing events, show, or 
display''?
3. Exemption From Rendering Inoperative Prohibition
    Finally, NHTSA has related exemption authority with regard to the 
``make inoperative'' provision in its statute. Manufacturers, 
distributors, dealers, and motor vehicle repair businesses are 
prohibited from knowingly making inoperative any part of a device or 
element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle 
equipment in compliance with an applicable FMVSS unless they reasonably 
believe the vehicle or equipment will not be used (except for testing 
or a similar purpose during maintenance or repair) when the device or 
element is inoperative.\27\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \27\ 49 U.S.C. 30122(b).
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    However, NHTSA may prescribe regulations to exempt a person or a 
class of persons from this prohibition if the Agency decides the 
exemption is consistent with motor vehicle safety and the purposes of 
the Act. For example, pursuant to that authority, NHTSA has exempted 
from the ``make inoperative'' prohibition,\28\ as a class, all motor 
vehicle repair businesses that modify a motor vehicle to enable a 
person with a disability to operate, or ride as a passenger in, the 
motor vehicle to the extent that those modifications affect the motor 
vehicle's compliance with the FMVSS or portions thereof specified in 
paragraph (c) of 49 CFR part 595. Such an exemption may be warranted 
for certain ``dual-mode'' vehicles, i.e., those that may be operated 
with or without a human driver and are designed to have mandated and/or 
regulated components, such as brake pedals, retract under specified 
conditions. Comments are invited on this issue.
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    \28\ 49 U.S.C. 30122.
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    Question 21. What role could a pilot program play in determining 
when to grant an exemption from the ``make inoperative'' prohibition 
under section 30122 for certain ``dual mode'' vehicles? Relatedly, what 
tools does NHTSA have to incentivize vehicles with high and full 
driving automation that have means of manual control and thus do not 
need an exemption to participate in the pilot program?
4. Other Potential Obstacles
    The Agency also wishes to better understand any other potential 
obstacles either to the development of the pilot program or vehicles 
with high and full driving automation more generally.
    Question 22. If there are any obstacles other than the FMVSS to the 
testing and development of vehicles with high and full driving 
automation, please explain what those are and what could be done to 
relieve or lessen their burdens. To the extent any tension exists 
between a Federal pilot program and State or local law, how can NHTSA 
better partner with State and local authorities to advance our common 
interests in the safe and effective testing and deployment of ADS 
technology?

IV. Confidentiality of Information Provided by Program Participants

    NHTSA recognizes that companies may be reluctant to share certain 
data or information with the Agency in connection with an exception, an 
exemption, or a pilot program because the data or information is 
proprietary. The Agency notes that 49 CFR part 512 sets forth the 
procedures and standards by which it will consider claims that 
information submitted to the Agency is entitled to confidential 
treatment under 5 U.S.C. 552(b), most often because the information 
constitutes confidential business information as described in 5 U.S.C. 
552(b)(4). Part 512 also addresses the treatment of information 
determined to be entitled to confidential treatment. Commercial or 
financial information is considered confidential if it is voluntarily 
submitted to the Agency and is the type of information that is 
customarily not released to the general public. The Agency is seeking 
information from interested parties on how it might further protect 
non-public information that the Agency might need in connection with an 
exemption or pilot program.

V. Next Steps

    The Agency wishes to re-emphasize that it has not made any 
decisions whether to establish a pilot program or how to structure such 
a program. After analyzing the public comments on this ANPRM and other 
available information, NHTSA will further assess the prospects for 
implementing a viable and effective program and identify the best 
approach to structuring one. Once it has done so, it will issue a 
notice, either an NPRM, if regulatory changes are determined to be 
necessary or a request for comment, if no regulatory changes are 
required, describing that approach and any promising alternative 
approaches and again seek public comment. After considering that second 
round of comments, the Agency will make a final decision about such a 
program in a final rule, if needed, or through another notice.

VI. Regulatory Notices

    This action has been determined to be significant under Executive 
Order 12866, as amended by Executive Order 13563, and the Department of 
Transportation's Regulatory Policies and Procedures. It has been 
reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget under that Order. 
Executive Orders 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) and 13563 
(Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review) require agencies to 
regulate in the ``most cost-effective manner,'' to make a ``reasoned 
determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its 
costs,'' and to develop regulations that ``impose the least burden on 
society.'' Additionally, Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 require 
agencies to provide a meaningful opportunity for public participation. 
Accordingly, we have asked commenters to answer a variety of questions 
to elicit practical information about alternative approaches and 
relevant technical data. These comments will help the Department 
evaluate whether a proposed rulemaking is needed and appropriate. This 
action is not subject to the requirements of E.O. 13771 (82 FR 9339,

[[Page 50883]]

February 3, 2017) because it is an advance notice of proposed 
rulemaking.

VII. Public Comment

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 
arguments in a concise fashion so that the Agency and the public can 
more readily identify the more significant aspects of your comments. 
However, you may provide additional supporting arguments and relevant 
data by attaching necessary additional documents to your comments. 
There is no limit on the number or 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 
Comments. 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 document, 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 October 3, 2018, under authority 
delegated in 49 CFR part 1.95.
Heidi Renate King,
Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2018-21919 Filed 10-9-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P