WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the race to build autonomous trucks gathers pace, U.S. regulators are seeking to set some safety rules for such vehicles.
In a notice published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is calling for public comments on a survey on the subject.
“The questionnaire is designed to collect baseline opinions of automated driving systems (ADS) before and after hands-on demonstrations with ADS technologies,” the agency said.
It hopes to gather information from some 2,000 respondents, including fleet managers, sales personnel, government officials and truck drivers.
“Although ADS-equipped trucks hold the promise of increased safety, productivity and efficiency, it is not clear how these vehicles should be integrated into fleet operations with conventional trucks for mixed-fleet operations,” the FMCSA said.
It said the introduction of ADS technology on heavy-duty trucks will profoundly affect all commerce in the U.S. as the country moves more than 70% of all goods by truck.
“However, existing stakeholders in the road freight ecosystem (primarily for-hire and private truck fleets, but also shippers, brokers, truck manufacturers and service and maintenance providers) do not have a clear picture of how they will implement ADS in their daily operations,” the agency said.
It noted that technical progress in the technology is outstripping the ability of fleets to keep up and plan for ADS deployment, which may adversely affect adoption.
“If ADS technology is to gain traction in the U.S. trucking industry, current stakeholders and new entrants need a rigorous, data driven CONOPS (fleet concept of operations),” it said.
Autonomous trucks are at various stages of development, with OEMs investing billions of dollars in tech startups.
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