FMCSA seeks comments on Level 4 autonomous truck study

June 9, 2023

Tyson Fisher


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking information on human-automated driving system team driving applications.

On Thursday, June 8, FMCSA posted a notice and request for comments on the Federal Register titled “New Information Collection: Safety Impacts of Human-Automated Driving System (ADS) Team Driving Applications.”

According to the notice, FMCSA is collecting information regarding “a driving simulator study with a series of questionnaires that will quantify the safety implications of team driving applications between humans and automated driving system-equipped commercial motor vehicles.” The study will focus on team driving applications with Level 4 commercial motor vehicles.

Level 4 trucks are capable of all functions and controls necessary for driving without human monitoring in limited conditions. The human driver will not be asked to take over control of the vehicle. A Level 4 truck will not operate outside of the conditions it was designed for without human control.

Approximately 80 truck drivers will participate in the automated driving system truck study.

The study will assess the safety benefits and disadvantages of human-autonomous truck team driving applications and support the analysis of potential requests for relief from FMCSA’s hours-of-service regulations.

“Over the past 15 years, ADS technology has advanced rapidly through innovation,” the notice states. “As more manufacturers and technology companies move toward higher levels of automation (i.e., SAE “L4”), it is not fully clear how human drivers will team with ADS-equipped trucks.”

There are at least four use cases where a human may team with an autonomous truck:

  1. In-vehicle driver teams with an autonomous truck.
  2. In-vehicle driver teams with a following autonomous truck.
  3. Remote monitor/operator teaming with an autonomous truck.
  4. In-vehicle driver teams with a remote human to monitor and control an automated driving system truck.

“Each of the teaming use cases above offers different potential human factors benefits and challenges. However, it is unclear how each human-ADS teaming use case will affect safety, productivity, and efficiency,” the notice states. “Each teaming combination may positively or negatively affect a driver’s cognitive workload and level of fatigue, alertness, or distraction compared to the case of a traditional driver in a truck without ADS. For example, the in-vehicle drivers and remote monitors/operators in the above teaming use cases may experience varying workloads and differences in the development of fatigue.”

Comments can be submitted using four methods (all comments due by Aug. 7):

  • Federal electronic rulemaking portal: Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail: Docket Operations, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E., West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.
  • Hand delivery or courier: Docket Operations, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E., Washington, D.C. 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except federal holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, call 202-366-9317 or 202-366-9826 before visiting Docket Operations.
  • Fax: 202-493-2251.

When submitting comments, include the docket number (Docket No. FMCSA-2023-0098) and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation. LL

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