NHTSA announces expansion of automated vehicle transparency program

January 11, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the expansion of an automated vehicle transparency initiative to a full program during a virtual news conference on Monday, Jan. 11.

As part of the AV TEST (Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing) Initiative, NHTSA’s online traffic tool – which provides data on testing and safety performance of automated driving systems in cities across the country – is now open to all stakeholders. Previously, nine states and nine companies participated in the AV TEST pilot. The expansion will include 52 companies, governments, and associations.

“NHTSA’s open and direct relationships with automated technology developers, states and other stakeholders are instrumental to ensuring that these technologies help save lives and prevent injuries on American roadways,” said James Owens, NHTSA’s deputy administrator. “AV TEST will help participants and the public understand the capabilities and limitations of these technologies, to share best practices, and to promote healthy competition for safer practices and information sharing that the public can review and compare.”

FMCSA acting Administrator Wiley Deck said that fully autonomous vehicles are still a ways away. However, he also said the technology has the potential to save lives.

“While we realize that large-scale implementation of automated vehicles is still in the future, innovations continue rapidly,” Deck said.

“That technology holds promise to save thousands of lives, and it has potential to help commercial motor vehicle drivers, too. Safely harnessing this technology, however, will need our continued and focused attention.”

Among the new participants signed on to participate in the program are self-driving truck companies Embark, Kodiak and TuSimple.

It should be noted that information submitted by the companies is voluntary. The “safety reports” submitted to the program by Kodiak and TuSimple are more reminiscent of marketing brochures than performance data.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Automated Vehicles Comprehensive Plan focuses on three goals.

  • Promote collaboration and transparency.
  • Modernize the regulatory environment.
  • Prepare the transportation system.

Owens said NHTSA is still a long way from fully regulating automated vehicle technology because the technology itself has not yet been fully developed and that there are no fully autonomous vehicles available to the public at this time. LL

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Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.