FMCSA hopes to gain ‘traction’ for automated-vehicle tech through hands-on demos, gathering input from industry insiders

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Locomation Platooning Demo
During an October platooning demonstration, Locomation worked with the Smart Belt Coalition to coordinate deliveries between food banks in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hopes to gather data from members of the trucking industry for use in the development of a concept of operations for incorporating automated driving systems into existing fleets. (Courtesy: Ohio Department of Transportation)

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is seeking public input on a survey questionnaire, Trucking Fleet Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for Managing Mixed Fleets, designed to collect opinions of automated driving systems (ADS) from industry professionals both before and after hands-on demonstrations with the technologies. The request for comments was published in the Federal Register Nov. 3.

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The agency plans to use the survey questionnaire to collect opinions from about 2,000 commercial vehicle drivers, fleet managers, industry engineers, vehicle-sales personnel, researchers and state and federal government personnel at four roadshows. The roadshows will take place in conjunction with large conferences, such as the Technology Maintenance Council’s annual meeting, the North American Commercial Vehicle Show, the SAE COMVEC digital summit and the Automated Vehicle Symposium.

Phase 1 of the study will be conducted before the roadshows to provide baseline opinions of ADS technologies; Phase 2 will consist of opinions gathered after participants take part in hands-on demonstrations of the technologies at the roadshows.

“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 notice reads. “… 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.”

According to the notice, FMCSA hopes to use the program to help ADS technology gain traction in the nation’s trucking industry through hands-on demonstrations. Through these demonstrations, the agency hopes to familiarize industry insiders and the general public to ADS technology; collect participants’ opinions and perception of ADS; and then use the data collected to make sure the resulting concept of operations covers major industry concerns.

FMCSA is seeking comments on various aspects of the information-collection program, including the following:

  • Whether the proposed collection is necessary for the performance of FMCSA’s functions;
  • The accuracy of the estimated burden;
  • Ways for FMCSA to enhance the quality, usefulness and clarity of the collected information; and
  • Ways that the burden could be minimized without reducing the quality of the collected information.

To review the notice or submit comments, click here. The comment period ends Jan. 4, 2021.

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