United States: The Trump Administration's Automated Vehicles Guidance Hits The Gas Pedal On Innovation

Further accelerating federal regulation of automated vehicles, last week the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") announced highly anticipated new guidance for the testing and development of automated driving technologies.  Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety ("ADS 2.0") replaces the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy ("FAVP") released under the Obama administration in September 2016 and includes a number of significant revisions and clarifications of the earlier policy.

The revised policy offers broad federal guidance on how auto manufacturers, technology companies, artificial intelligence developers, and others should go about testing automated vehicle technologies to get them ready for mainstream America. Issued as Congress is in the midst of considering federal legislation that attempts for the first time to regulate automated vehicles, the guidance offers additional regulatory clarity while recognizing that flexibility is necessary to allow the industry to continue to innovate around automated driving technologies.

NHTSA is seeking comments from stakeholders on the new policy. The K&L Gates CarTech team is available to assist in the preparation of comments, as well as to advise clients about the new policy's impact on the development and commercialization of automated vehicles.

ADS 2.0 is similar to the policy that preceded it (which we summarized here). However, it also makes a number of important changes, many of which were suggested in the more than 160 stakeholder comments to the FAVP. The most significant change is the elimination of the FAVP's discussion of NHTSA's current and potential future regulatory tools to address automated driving technologies. NHTSA's  guidance to vehicle manufacturers regarding the revised policy notes that information about the agency's current regulatory authorities will be made available on its website and makes no mention of potential new authorities. Beyond these wholesale revisions, other changes reflected in ADS 2.0 are more nuanced — but also important.

Voluntary Guidance
The "Voluntary Guidance" portion of ADS 2.0 identifies 12 safety elements for consideration in the testing and deployment of automated driving technologies. NHTSA encourages industry "to consider each safety element in the design of their systems and have a self-document process for assessment, testing, and validation of the various elements." This section of the revised policy broadly parallels the FAVP's "Vehicle Performance Guidance," which encouraged consideration of a similar list of safety factors (with some important exceptions, as detailed below). However, while the FAVP invited industry to submit Safety Assessment Letters to NHTSA detailing their efforts to address these factors, ADS 2.0 proposes that entities publish a "Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment" without any submission to the agency. The revised policy stresses that publication of such assessments is entirely voluntary but may be "an opportunity to showcase their approach to safety, without needing to reveal proprietary intellectual property."

Other important distinctions between ADS 2.0 and the FAVP in this area include:

  • Applicability: While the FAVP applied to vehicles at levels L2–L5 on the SAE International scale of automation, ADS 2.0 focuses on vehicles at automation level L3 and higher.
  • Safety Factors: The list of factors to be considered by industry no longer includes privacy, ethical considerations, registration, or data sharing (other than crash data). The agency's guidance to manufacturers states that these factors "remain important and are areas for further discussion and research."
  • Clarification: In an apparent response to comments submitted regarding the Safety Assessment Letters suggested by the FAVP, ADS 2.0 stresses that its Voluntary Safety Self-Assessments are entirely voluntary and not a prerequisite to vehicle testing or deployment. In fact, the revised policy as a whole makes a concerted effort to communicate that it is voluntary and nonbinding — what NHTSA deems a "nonregulatory" approach.

Technical Assistance to States
The "Technical Assistance to States" portion of ADS 2.0 expands on the FAVP's "Model State Policy," which delineated roles and regulatory responsibilities between the federal government, on the one hand, and state and local governments, on the other. The revised policy reaffirms the basic division of regulatory responsibilities outlined in the FAVP, stating, "NHTSA is responsible for regulating motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, and States are responsible for regulating the human driver and most other aspects of motor vehicle operation." ADS 2.0 goes further by identifying best practices for state legislatures and highway safety officials to facilitate the safe introduction of automated driving technologies on their roadways. The latter suggestions reflect NHTSA's ongoing collaboration with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

Other important revisions include:

  • Codification: Responding to another area of uncertainty identified in comments to the FAVP, ADS 2.0 "strongly encourages States not to codify [its] Voluntary Guidance . . . as a legal requirement for any phases of development testing or deployment of [automated driving systems]." Stakeholders had raised concerns that certain states had taken steps to require compliance with the FAVP, despite its intended nonbinding, voluntary nature.
  • Technology Neutrality: NHTSA's advice to state legislatures encourages the creation of a "technology neutral" policy environment, noting, "States should not place unnecessary burdens on competition and innovation by limiting ADS testing or deployment to motor vehicle manufacturers only." This is an important endorsement of a principle that is frequently advocated for by technology industry stakeholders.

As noted above, NHTSA is seeking stakeholder comments on ADS 2.0. The comment solicitation notes that the "agency expects and intends the voluntary guidance to continue to be updated based upon public comment; the experience of the agency, manufacturers, suppliers, consumers, and others; and further research findings and technological innovations." Indeed, the Transportation Department and NHTSA have indicated that work on "ADS 3.0" has already begun. This is an important opportunity for stakeholders to have a voice in the future regulation of this emerging industry.

Further iterations of NHTSA policies will also likely be influenced by developments occurring in Congress. Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the first significant legislation addressing automated driving technologies, which included provisions relating to federal preemption, vehicle testing, and future regulation, among other intersection points with ADS 2.0. Our summary of that legislation is available here. The Senate continues to work on its version of the legislation, with a goal of advancing a bill into law in the near future. Notably, Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune has stated that the Senate's version of legislation regulating self-driving vehicles could be considered in his committee before Columbus Day. These developments underscore the interest and excitement in automated driving technologies at the federal level, which Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao captured in her remarks introducing ADS 2.0, saying, "the safe deployment of automated vehicle technologies means we can look forward to a future with fewer traffic fatalities and increased mobility for all Americans."

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.