U.S. DOT launches online tool to help public track testing of automated vehicles

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Autonomous Truck Cockpit
The U.S. Department of Transportation has launched an online tracking tool to keep the public informed about testing sites for autonomous vehicles around the country.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on Sept. 2 launched a public online tool to improve the safety and testing transparency of automated driving systems. The new online tracking tool provides data on the on-road testing of automated driving systems in 17 cities across the country, expanding the information available to the public about these vehicles, including their on-road testing and safety performance.

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“This tool gives the public online access to data about the on-road testing of automated driving systems so the public can understand more about this new technology,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The tool is part of the Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing (AV TEST) Initiative, which Chao announced in June. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is overseeing the AV TEST Initiative.

The Sept. 2 launch event featured remarks by Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan). In addition, the agency held a panel discussion on “Automated Driving Systems and Rural Safety,” featuring Finch Fulton, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy. The Sept. 3 panel, “AV TEST: A Foundational Resource for the First Responder Community,” included a message from Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois).

The tool is available at nhtsa.gov/avtest. The online, public-facing platform will allow participants to share testing activities related to automated driving systems and other safety-related information with the public. Online mapping tools may show testing locations at the local, state and national levels, as well as testing activity data, which may include dates, frequency, vehicle counts and routes.

Ten companies and nine states have already signed on as participants in the voluntary web pilot, according to a Sept. 2 statement from NHTSA.

“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,” said James Owens, deputy administrator of NHTSA. “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.

“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,” he continued. “By tapping into the power of the competitive marketplace, nonregulatory tools have proven to be effective in advancing vehicle safety, as evidenced by the success of the Five-Star Safety Ratings program,” he added.

The AV TEST Initiative’s online tracking tool will soon be open to all stakeholders involved in the safe development and testing of automated driving system vehicles. At the state and local level, participants may include departments of motor vehicles, departments of transportation, highway safety offices, and city governments. At the automotive industry level, participants may include developers, manufacturers, suppliers, operators, and testers.

This initiative aligns with the Department’s leadership on automated driving system vehicles, including AV 4.0: Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies.

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