USDOT releases new guidance for the development and introduction of autonomous vehicles


The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has released new Federal guidance for automated vehicles, advancing its commitment to supporting the safe integration of automation into the USA’s broad multimodal surface transportation system.

USDOT’s new multi-modal guidance document, Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0′ (AV 3.0) builds upon, but does not replace, voluntary guidance provided in the agency’s previous ‘Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety’ document.

AV 3.0 incorporates the results of extensive stakeholder engagement to provide updated voluntary guidance and policy considerations for a range of industry sectors, including: manufacturers and technology developers, infrastructure owners and operators, commercial motor carriers, bus transit, and state and local governments.

The AV 3.0 guidance supports the safe development of automated vehicle technologies by:

• Providing new multi-modal safety guidance;

• Reducing policy uncertainty and clarifying roles;

• Outlining a process for working with USDOT as technology evolves.

Specifically, the new AV 3.0 guidance provides several updates to the USDOT’s initiatives relating to automated vehicles, by:

• Stating that the USDOT will interpret and, consistent with all applicable notice and comment requirements, adapt the definitions of ‘driver’ or ‘operator’ as appropriate to recognize that such terms do not refer exclusively to a human, but may include an automated system;

• Identifying and supporting the development of automation-related voluntary standards developed through organizations and associations, which can be an effective non-regulatory means to advance the integration of automation technologies;

• Affirming that the agency is continuing its work to preserve the ability for transportation safety applications to function in the 5.9GHz spectrum.

AV 3.0 also announces and discusses several upcoming rulemakings and other actions being taken in the near future by the agency’s operating administrations, including the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which announces plans to update the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), taking into consideration new connected and automated vehicle technologies.

The agency has also taken measures to clarify its policies and roles regarding autonomous technology trials, including its decision to remove federal funding from its 10 Automated Vehicle Proving Ground test sites that were designated last year. The agency said that due to the, “rapid increase in automated vehicle testing activities in many locations, there is no need for USDOT to favor particular locations.”

Launching the guidance, US Transportation Secretary Elaine L Chao, said, “The safe integration of automated vehicle technology into our transportation system will increase productivity, facilitate freight movement and create new types of jobs.”

The guidance has been welcomed by ITS America, with the organization’s president and CEO, Shailen Bhatt, stating, “We are encouraged by the Department’s support for V2X in the AV 3.0 guidance for automated driving systems. Regardless of technology, preserving the safety spectrum (5.9GHz band) to enable V2X communications is, and should remain, the top priority to support our shared goal of saving lives on US roadways.

“In addition, the Department’s plan to update safety standards and streamline and modernize the exemption approval process for automated vehicles is a positive step forward. We also applaud the Department’s emphasis on not just ‘curb-to-curb’ but ‘door-to-door’ travel, which will allow people with disabilities and older adults more independence by providing better access to jobs, education and healthcare.” 

Interested in autonomous vehicles? Our Autonomous Vehicle Technology Expo, Novi, Michigan, USA, October 23-25, 2018, is a must-attend event for anyone working on the path toward driverless vehicles.

The expo will see some 75 exhibitors showcase test and next-generation enabling technologies specifically developed for AVs, and will also include three dedicated conferences: Autonomous Vehicle Interior Design & Technology Symposium, Autonomous Vehicle Test & Development Symposium, and Autonomous Vehicle Safety Regulation World Congress (rates apply).

To register for your free fast track entry code, click here.

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.