DOT unveils plan to integrate private, commercial automated vehicles onto nation’s roadways

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TuSimple Level 4 Autonomous Truck web
The U.S. Department of Transportation has released a comprehensive plan for the integration of vehicles that use automated driving technology — including semis — onto the nation’s highways. (Courtesy: TuSimple)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) this week released the Automated Vehicles Comprehensive Plan (AVCP). The plan outlines the DOT’s multimodal “roadmap” to prepare the nation’s transportation system for the integration of automated driving systems (ADS).

“This comprehensive plan lays out a vision for the safe integration of automated vehicles into America’s transportation system while ensuring that legitimate concerns about safety, security, and privacy are addressed,” said Elaine L. Chao, who served as Secretary of Transportation during the development of the AVCP.

The AVCP defines three goals:

  1. Promote collaboration and transparency: USDOT will promote access to clear and reliable information to its partners and stakeholders, including the public, regarding the capabilities and limitations of ADS.
  2. Modernize the regulatory environment: USDOT will modernize regulations to remove unintended and unnecessary barriers to innovative vehicle designs, features, and operational models, and will develop safety focused frameworks and tools to assess the safe performance of ADS technologies.
  3. Prepare the transportation system: USDOT will conduct, in partnership with stakeholders, the foundational research and demonstration activities needed to safely evaluate and integrate ADS, while working to improve the safety, efficiency, and accessibility of the transportation system.

In addition to passenger vehicles, the AVCP addresses automated trucking operations, currently in development, for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) equipped with Level 4 automation, under which the vehicle is capable of performing all driving tasks under specific circumstances using geofencing; human override of the system is still an option.

The AVCP states, “In the context of ADS-equipped CMVs, FMCSA will continue to exercise its existing statutory authority over the safety of motor carriers operating in interstate commerce, the qualifications and safety of CMV drivers, and the safe operation of commercial trucks and motor coaches. FMCSA retains its authority to take enforcement action if an automated system inhibits safe operation.”

Development of the AVCP was informed by extensive stakeholder engagement conducted over the last several years through events (in-person and virtual) and public notices. The AVCP will be published in the Federal Register for public review and comment; click here to view a PDF of the plan.

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