The SANPRM follows the prior advance notice of proposed rulemaking (“ANPRM”) published in May 2019.
Specifically, FMCSA is seeking comment and asked questions about a variety of topics including:
- Notification requirements prior to operating Level 4 or 5 ADS-equipped CMVs;
- Demonstrating safety management controls;
- Types of data collected and maintained;
- Remote driver oversight; and
- Vehicle inspection and maintenance
FMCSA’s SANPRM indicated the focus of the notice is on Level 4 and 5 ADS-equipped CMVs – as those control all aspects of the dynamic driving task without human driver intervention. FMCSA reiterated from the ANPRM that it adopted the levels of automation in SAE J3016, and noted that ADS-Equipped CMVs “present operational characteristics and challenges” that pose additional safety risks warranting a modification of, or adoption of new, regulatory standards. See 88 Fed. Reg. 6691, 6693.
Notably, FMCSA is considering establishing a requirement for motor carriers to notify FMCSA of intention to operate CMVs without a human driver behind the wheel so FMCSA can monitor those operations. FMCSA is also seeking comment on oversight for remote assistants, which likely impacts Level 4 driving, as a human driver may be needed once a Level 4 CMV reaches its operational design domain limit. Remote assistants may also interact with law enforcement, first responders, and other officials for both Level 4 and Level 5 operations. FMCSA also raised whether additional inspections would be required for Level 4 or Level 5-equipped CMVs and challenges resulting from not having a constant human presence during operation.
As part of its continued engagement with industry stakeholders, FMCSA described its ongoing efforts to “[p]rioritiz[e] safety while supporting the power of innovation to transform transportation for the better” as “central” to its approach and referenced the National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) and US DOT Innovation Principles. 88 Fed. Reg. 6691, 6693. FMCSA does not anticipate a need to revise the FMCSRs to address integration of Levels 0-3 equipment because a human CMV driver must be behind the wheel at all times to perform or take over dynamic driving tasks.
Comments on the SANPRM are due on March 20, 2023.
Authored by Joanne Rotondi, Edward Fishman, Susan McAuliffe, Kathryn Lannon, and Allisa Newman.