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NHTSA gathering data on occupant protection in autonomous vehicles

April 1, 2020
NHTSA to study Automated Driving Systems (ADS) that lack the traditional manual controls necessary for human drivers, but that are otherwise traditional vehicles with typical seating configurations.

Through a Notice of Proposed Rukemaking (NPRM) The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is exploring regulatory actions to address the near- and long-term challenges of testing and verifying compliance with the Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) for vehicles with Automated Driving Systems (ADS) that lack the traditional manual controls necessary for human drivers, but that are otherwise traditional vehicles with typical seating configurations.

Entitled Occupant Protection for Automated Driving Systems, the NPRM seeks to clarify the ambiguities in applying current crashworthiness standards to ADS-equipped vehicles without traditional manual controls, while maintaining the regulatory text's application to more traditional vehicles and vehicles equipped with ADS that may have alternate modes. This proposal is limited to the crashworthiness standards and provides a unified set of proposed regulatory text applicable to vehicles with and without ADS functionality.

This NPRM builds on NHTSA's efforts to identify and address regulatory barriers to vehicles with unique designs that are equipped with ADS technologies, including the advance notice of proposed rulemaking on removing barriers in the crash avoidance (100 Series) FMVSS in May 2019, the request for comments on this topic in January 2018, and the research that NHTSA is currently conducting.

NHTSA also intends to issue a separate notice regarding removal of barriers in the FMVSS that pertain to telltales, indicators, alerts, and warnings in ADS-equipped vehicles.

Comments should be submitted by May 29. Comments should include Docket number NHTSA-2020-0014, RIN 2127-AM06 and can be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

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