FMCSA Asks for Public Opinion on Autonomous Trucks
Autonomous trucks are no doubt still far into the future, but that has not stopped the Federal Motor Safety Administration (FMCSA) from preparing to regulate them. They have announced a Supplemental Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SANPRM) where they request public feedback on how self-driving trucks should be regulated as they become more common.
The SANPRM is a revival of a similar measure conducted in 2019, and if you go to the comments section, you will see comments from that original Notice.
The FMCSA is asking nineteen different questions about the future of automated driving systems (ADS) and how to regulate them. Some examples of questions include (as taken directly from the SANPRM):
1.1. Should FMCSA require motor carriers operating Level 4 or 5 ADS-equipped CMVs to notify FMCSA before operating those vehicles in interstate commerce without a human driver behind the wheel? If so, what potential methods or procedures should be established to notify FMCSA of those operations?
2.1. To what extent should the Federal requirements otherwise applicable to CMV drivers (such as hours-of service limitations, drug and alcohol testing, and physical qualifications), also apply to a remote assistant who is not expected to take control of the dynamic driving task of an ADS-equipped CMV operating at Level 4?
3.4. What, if any, pre-trip inspection requirements, documentation, and communications capability (for making the results of such inspections available to law enforcement personnel), should be imposed on motor carriers operating Level 4 and 5 ADS-equipped CMVs as a condition for by-passing conventional roadside inspection stations?
3.8. If Level 4 or 5 ADS-equipped CMVs are not subject to State roadside inspections, how would law enforcement agencies and motor carriers ensure that such CMVs are not used to engage in unlawful activity, e.g., human trafficking, cargo theft?
As a refresher, level 4 ADS is high automation and level 5 ADS is full automation, with the primary difference being whether the truck takes a predetermined route or can change its route to anywhere at a moment’s notice.
You can read the entire notice and comment at the webpage for the SANPRM. Comments are due on or before March 20th, 2023. We invite you to offer your opinion on these sample questions, as well as the other questions provided by the FMCSA.
Despite the FMCSA taking advanced steps to securing the safety of autonomous trucking, we still hold the opinion that we will have many years to go before we have self-driving semi-trucks.
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