State Autonomous Vehicle Legislation
In the first months of 2020, several state legislatures considered bills that would regulate the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles (AVs). While the COVID-19 crisis paused legislative activity across the country, states are expected to reopen and may consider some of these measures in the coming months. Below is a brief highlight of where state and local legislation currently stands:
Enacted into Law:
- Washington State – The legislature enacted HB 2676 at the end of the session in March. The new AV law establishes requirements for the testing of AVs, including requiring the testing entity to hold minimum liability insurance of $5M and to report any collisions involving an autonomous motor vehicle during testing on a public roadway for any moving violations for which a citation or infraction was issued. The law does not take effect until October 2021.
- Utah – HB 277 revises the existing statute that regulates the use of remote-operated personal delivery devices (PDD). The bill amended definitions of PDD, provided for parameters of operation for a PDD in pedestrian areas and on highways, and delegated some authority over PDD regulations to local governments. The bill passed with the amendment to exclude motor vehicles from the definition of PDDs.
- Alabama – SB 229 would require automated vehicles or commercial motor vehicles with a teleoperation system be tested and approved by the AL State Law Enforcement Agency and the State Department of Transportation prior to operation in the state. The bill also would require that routes used by such vehicles be approved by the Dept. of Transportation. The bill is currently pending in the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee.
- DC – B23-0232, provides for AV testing only and requires semi-annual reporting of data such as vehicle miles traveled and crash reporting by testing entities. The bill also requires AV testing entities to notify the Department of a crash involving an AV. It is expected that the Council will consider the bill upon the reconvening of the Council once the city has reopened.
- California – AB 3116 would authorize state and local regulatory entities to require "Mobility device" operators to submit anonymized trip data to the regulatory entity.
The bill also outlines specific conditions where the trip data could be shared with a contractor, agent, or other public agency. According to the bill, trip data can be shared if sharing of trip data is to assist the public agency in the promotion and protection of transportation planning, integration of mobility options, and road safety, among other conditions. The bill is currently pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
· North Carolina – SB 739 would establish parameters for the use of Personal Delivery Devices (PDD), including among other things: (1) the PDD is monitored by a human that can exercise remote control over the PDD; (2) the PDD does not unreasonably interfere with any vehicle or pedestrian; (3) the PDD does not transport hazardous materials; (4) the PDD does not exceed speeds of 10 miles per hour in pedestrian areas or 35 miles per hour on highways. The Commerce and Insurance Committee amended SB 739 on May 27th, 2020 to include size and weight specification in the bill.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Introduces "Five-Stars for Safe Cars Act"
On March 12, 2020, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced legislation to revise the New Car Assessment Program's (NCAP) 5-Star Safety Rating System (H.R. 6256).
The bill would require the Secretary of Transportation (Secretary) to publish a five-year "roadmap" of efforts in a public report detailing efforts to develop test procedures, test devices, test fixtures, and safety performance measures within NCAP. Among other requirements, the Secretary's report would need to identify new safety features, synchronize passenger motor vehicle information with international and private organization standards, and conduct annual reviews of passenger motor vehicle information.
H.R. 6256 would also require changes to the existing NCAP program. Specifically, the bill would mandate: (1) expanded "crashworthiness" standards for additional demographics and seating positions within the vehicle; (2) the creation of crash avoidance tests and ratings for new advanced driver-assist technologies; (3) establishment of crash avoidance technology standards for pedestrian safety; (4) the Secretary to complete research into automatic collision notification; and (5) the Secretary to complete research into advanced crash avoidance systems.
The bill was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where it awaits further action.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced legislation on March 13, 2020, to require the Secretary of Transportation (Secretary) to issue final rules establishing performance standards for advanced driver assistance technologies, as well as mandate such technologies on all new passenger motor vehicles manufactured, imported, or sold in the United States. The bill also requires the Secretary to research crash avoidance technologies and submit a report to Congress on the findings.
The rules required in H.R. 6284 would include (1) federal motor vehicle safety standards for various advanced driver-assist technologies – including at speeds vehicles are expected to operate on highways and in cities; (2) federal motor vehicle safety standards for new headlamp technologies; and (3) compliance dates not exceeding two model years from the issuing date of the final rule.
Within the research provision of H.R. 6284, the Secretary would be required to develop tests and metrics for driver monitoring systems, lane-keeping assist, and automatic crash data notification systems.
The Secretary would be required to report the findings of such research to House and Senate committees of jurisdiction.
Subsequent to the rulemaking for crash avoidance technologies, the Secretary would be required to issue a final rule mandating the capabilities and limitations of advanced driver assistance systems be provided to a consumer at the point of sale, as well as making the information publicly available to other consumers.
NHTSA Releases FMVSS Considerations for Vehicles with Automated Driving Systems
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its first volume of "FMVSS Considerations for Vehicles With Automated Driving Systems" ("Report") on April 28, 2020. The Report outlines research findings to assess the adaptation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), including performance requirements and test procedures, and related Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance (OVSC) test procedures based on potential regulatory barriers identified for innovative new vehicle designs that may appear in vehicles equipped with automated driving systems (ADS). This Report was written in conjunction with stakeholders and research institutions.
The Report documents the process carried out to develop technical translations and testing procedure options for the 12 FMVSS designated for near-term research in this project, such that regulatory barriers could be removed for vehicles operated exclusively by an ADS that does not have the traditional controls used by human drivers.
Specifically, the Report looks at crash avoidance standards and crashworthiness/occupant protection standards. Under crash avoidance standards, the Report examines the following FMVSS: (1) Transmission Shift Position Sequence, Starter Interlock, and Transmission Braking Effect; (2) Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment; (3) Theft Protection and Rollaway Prevention; (4) Power-Operated Window, Partition, and Roof Panel Systems; (5) Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems; and (6) Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles.
Under Crashworthiness and Occupant Protection Standards the report examines the following FMVSS: (1) Occupant Protection in Interior Impact; (2) Head Restraints; (3) Impact Protection for the Driver for the Steering Control System; (4) Steering Control Rearward Displacement; (5) Glazing Materials; and (6) Door Locks and Door Retention Components.
Based on the research outlined in this Report, NHTSA will look to advance test procedures for ADS systems to verify compliance with FMVSS and will continue to adapt technical translation approaches based on the development of new tests and standards.
NHTSA Files Final SAFE Vehicles Rule
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed the final rule "Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks" on April 20, 2020. Specifically, the EPA is amending carbon dioxide standards for the model year 2021 and later, and NHTSA is amending fuel economy standards for the model year 2021 and setting new fuel economy standards for model years 2022-2026. The standards set by this rule apply to passenger cars and light trucks. The effective date of the rule is 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.
Specifically, the fuel economy and CO2 emissions standards will increase in stringency at 1.5 percent per year from the model year 2020 over model years 2021-2026. NHTSA and the EPA state that manufacturers will not be incentivized to favor one type of vehicle over another due to the updated standards which intend to be neutral to the type of vehicle being manufactured. NHTSA and the EPA also stated that the required technology costs for manufacturers to comply with the fuel economy and CO2 emissions standards would be reduced by $86 to $126 billion over the lifetimes of vehicles through the model year 2029. Additionally, NHTSA and the EPA state that the new standards will result in a reduction of purchase prices for new vehicles between $977 and $1,083.
This final rule concludes the rulemaking process, which began with a notice of proposed rulemaking on August 2, 2018. California and 22 other states have filed a lawsuit challenging the rule on May 27, 2020.
FAA Publishes Noise Certification of Supersonic Airplanes NPRM
On April 13, 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) entitled "Noise Certification of Supersonic Airplanes." In the 2018 FAA reauthorization, Congress directed the FAA to create standards for the certification of safe and efficient operation of civil supersonic aircraft. The agency is proposing to amend the noise certification regulations in Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 21 and 36 to provide for new supersonic airplanes, and to add subsonic landing and takeoff cycle standards for supersonic airplanes that have a maximum takeoff weight no greater than 150,000 pounds and a maximum operating cruise speed up to Mach 1.8.
This proposed rule would (1) amend the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to include new supersonic airplanes to be certified after a final rule takes effect; (2) revise the definition of a supersonic airplane to include newly certificated airplanes; (3) provide noise certification reference procedures to be used for all supersonic airplanes, and (4) establish noise limits for takeoff and landing that would apply to Supersonic Level 1 airplanes as defined in the proposed rule.
The proposed standards would allow Variable Noise Reduction Systems (VNRS) to be used for noise certification testing, and if used for certification, would require the system to be activated during normal operations.
Comments must be submitted on or before July 13, 2020.
NHTSA Publishes Occupant Protection for Automated Driving Systems NPRM
On March 30, 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) entitled "Occupant Protection for Automated Driving Systems." The NPRM explores ways to adapt the crashworthiness provisions of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) to vehicles with automated driving systems (ADS). The proposal would not change existing occupant protection requirements for traditional vehicles with manual controls.
With respect to definitions, this proposed rule would modify, add and relocate definitions to clarify the FMVSS for vehicles equipped with ADS and clarify the use of the term "truck" with respect to occupant-less vehicles designed to carry property and not 'persons'.
With respect to regulatory changes, this proposed rule would, among other things: (1) clarify the applicability of standards to protect drivers from injury in the steering control system in vehicles that do not carry people; (2) address protections required when there is not a steering wheel or steering column in the motor vehicle; (3) modify the regulatory text to address situations where there may be no driver's seat and multiple outboard passenger seats; (4) discuss the treatment of advanced air bad systems, especially for the possibility that children could occupy what is currently considered as the driver's seat; and (5) discusses and proposes modifications to using the driver's seat or steering control as a spatial reference point for other locations of the vehicle.
FCC Publishes, Extends Comment Period for NPRM on the Use of 5.9GHz Spectrum Band
On February 6, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) entitled "Use of the 5.850-5.925 GHz Band." The 75 MHz comprising the 5.9 GHz band was set aside by the FCC in 1999 for vehicle connectivity technology. The proposal would permit unlicensed devices to operate in the lower 45 MHz portion of the band and permit Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) operations in the upper 30-megahertz portion of the band, subject to other parameters and conditions.
The FCC states that splitting the 5.9 GHz band would more efficiently allocate spectrum resources to a variety of different uses. The FCC also states that the technology the 5.9GHz band was reserved for has not been widely deployed enough to warrant continued restriction of operation on the full band.
Stakeholders in the automotive and technology sectors have filed comments stating that interference will occur within the spectrum band if unlicensed devices are allowed to operate within the band – which they say would hamper the vehicle connectivity potential of the spectrum band.
The original comment period ended on March 9, 2020, with an extension granted for reply comments by April 6, 2020. The Commission is expected to render a decision in the coming months.