Friday, January 19, 2018

DOT Publishes Two Automated Driving Requests for Comment

Earlier this week the Department of Transportation published two separate requests for comments in the Federal Register; one from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA; 83 FR 2719-2721) and one from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA; 83 2607-2614). Both deal with automated driving systems (ADS).

FHWA Request for Comments

The FHWA is looking for comments on a range of issues related to assessing the infrastructure requirements and standards that may be necessary for enabling safe and efficient operations of ADS. After a brief introduction to the topic, the FHA notice asks for responses to several specific questions, including:

• What roadway characteristics are important for influencing the safety, efficiency, and performance of ADS? Are there certain physical infrastructure elements (e.g., lane markings, signage, signals, etc.) that are necessary for ADS?
• What challenges do non-uniform traffic control devices present for ADS technologies?
• How does the state of good repair (e.g., pavement and road markings quality) impact ADS?
• How should FHWA engage with industry and automation technology developers to understand potential infrastructure requirements?
• What is the role of digital infrastructure and data (including cybersecurity) in enabling needed information exchange between ADS and roadside infrastructure?
• What concerns do State and local agencies have regarding infrastructure investment and planning for ADS, given the level of uncertainty around the timing and development of this technology?
• Are there existing activities and research in the area of assessing infrastructure-ADS interface needs and/or associated standards?
• What are the priority issues that road owners and operators need to consider in terms of infrastructure requirements, modifications, investment, and planning, to accommodate integration of ADS?
• What variable information or data would ADS benefit from obtaining and how should that data be best obtained?
• What issues do road owners and operators need to consider in terms of infrastructure modifications and traffic operations as they encounter a mixed vehicle fleet (e.g., fully-automated, partially-automated, and non-automated; cooperative and unconnected) during the transition period to a potentially fully automated fleet?

Public comments on the FHWA request may be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (; Docket # FHWA-2017-0049). Comments should be submitted by March 5th, 2018.

NHTSA Request for Comments

The NHTSA request document is much more extensive and targets information necessary to help the agency to avoid impeding progress with unnecessary or unintended regulatory barriers to motor vehicles that have Automated Driving Systems (ADS). The preamble comments address automotive automation revolution, changes in vehicular design, initial agency attempts to address testing, certification and compliance issues, as well as providing an executive summary of the Volpe Report on Review of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for Automated Vehicles: Identifying Potential Barriers and Challenges for the Certification of Automated Vehicles Using Existing FMVSS.

The questions for which NHTSA is seeking public feedback are also much more extensive, and fall into two major categories:

• Barriers to Testing, Certification and Compliance Verification; and
• Research Needed to Address Those Barriers and NHTSA's Role in Conducting it.

Some of the questions on barriers to testing, certification and compliance verification include:

• What are the different categories of barriers that the FMVSS potentially create to the testing, certification and compliance verification of a new ADS vehicle lacking manual driving controls?
• Do you agree (or disagree) that the FMVSS provisions identified in the Volpe report or Google letter as posing barriers to testing and certification are, in fact, barriers?
• What research would be necessary to determine how to instruct a vehicle with ADS but without manual means of control to follow a driving test procedure? 
• Is there a safety need for the telltales and other displays in Table 1 and 2 of FMVSS 101 to be visible to any of the occupants in vehicles without manual driving controls?
• Would the informational safety needs of the occupants of vehicles with ADSs differ according to whether the vehicle has a full set of manual driving controls, just an emergency stop button or no controls whatsoever?
• If vehicles with ADSs have emergency controls that can be accessed through unconventional means, such as a smart phone or multi-purpose display and have unconventional interiors, how should the Agency address those controls?

The some of the research questions include:

• For issues about FMVSS barriers that NHTSA needs research to resolve, do commenters believe that there are specific items that would be better addressed through research by outside stakeholders, such as industry or research organizations, instead of by NHTSA itself?
• Are there industry standards, existing or in development, that may be suitable for incorporation by reference by NHTSA?

Public comments on the NHTSA request may be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (; Docket # NHTSA-2018-0009). Comments should be submitted by March 5th, 2018.


While both the FHWA and the NHTSA request for comments raise important and very interesting issues, there is a strange dearth of mention of the topic of cybersecurity. In fact, the only mention of the topic was in Question #5 on the FHWA request, and it looked like the mention was almost an afterthought.

The failure of NHTSA to even mention cybersecurity in their lengthy discussions and questions about federal motor vehicle safety standard seems to reflect an agency failure to recognize that all levels of automotive automation (including those currently in widespread use on the road) pose a potential safety risk due to inadequate and mostly missing cybersecurity standards.

In most of the NHTSA questions about the barriers to testing, certification and compliance, we could easily add specific questions about cybersecurity issues. Here are some of the questions that could have been asked:

• In question 1: How can NHTSA confirm that test methods developed for certification purposes have not been gamed by the manufacturer (see the EPA-VW testing issues on diesel exhaust emissions)?
• In question 12: How can NHTSA ensure that the data from various automated sensor provided to the ADS have not been tampered with?
• In question 13: Should the automated driving system cybersecurity controls provide information to vehicle occupants about identified or suspected attempts to gain unauthorized access to the vehicle automation systems?
• In question 17: What cybersecurity protections should be included for remote access to safety controls?

Perhaps what is really needed is a specific request for comments from both agencies on the cybersecurity regulatory needs for the safe implementation of automated driving systems.

No comments:

/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */