September 23, 2020
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The U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled a public online tracking tool on September 2 that provides data on the on-road testing of automated driving systems in 17 cities.

[Above photo by Argo/Ford.]

The tool is part of the Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing or AV TEST Initiative launched in June and overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“The more information the public has about the on-road testing of automated driving systems, the more they will understand the development of this promising technology,” noted NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens in a statement.

James Owens

“Automated driving systems are not yet available for sale to the public, and the AV TEST Initiative will help improve public understanding of the technology’s potential and limitations as it continues to develop,” he added.

It also addresses a key AV issue debated during a February 11 hearing held by the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.

“Safety and deployment must come hand in hand – we cannot have one without the other,” noted Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., the committee’s chair, in his remarks at that hearing. “Because, ultimately, public acceptance of self-driving cars depends on their reliability and safety. Troubling safety incidents, regulatory black holes, and lax oversight threaten to disrupt this critical balance and the future of this technology itself.”

NHTSA added that its online, public-facing platform will ask AV TEST participants to share information related to automated driving systems and other safety-related information from AV testing locations at the local, state, and national levels, as well as testing activity data, which may include dates, frequency, vehicle counts, and routes.

Photo by Google

Currently, the tool has data on on-road testing activities in 17 cities including Austin, Columbus (Ohio), Dallas, Denver, Jacksonville, Orlando, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

The USDOT added that 10 companies and nine states have already signed on as participants in this voluntary online tracking tool pilot project.

“Given the speed with which this technology is evolving, a volunteer partnership with industry and the states has allowed us to get this information to the public quickly and efficiently,” noted NHTSA’s Owens. “By tapping into the power of the competitive marketplace, non-regulatory tools have proven to be effective in advancing vehicle safety.”

To bolster those testing efforts, NHTSA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on March 17 to modernize numerous Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards while “clarifying ambiguities” in current occupant protection standards for vehicles equipped with automated driving systems or ADS that are not equipped with “traditional” manual controls.

editor@aashto.org

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