Following the release of the Department of Transportation’s Automated Vehicles Comprehensive Plan, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has approved a final rule to modernize numerous Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) in order to better align with autonomous vehicle designs. The rule amends several crashworthiness regulations to clarify safety standards for automated vehicles not equipped with manual driver controls. The rule also exempts automated vehicles designed to never carry any human occupants, including human drivers, from crashworthiness standards.
The final rule does the following:
- Changes to the terminology used in the standards found in all 200-Series FMVSSs to better align with autonomous vehicle designs. The changes to nomenclature provide clarity about how the crashworthiness of the FMVSS is applied to ADS-equipped vehicles, and seek to remove unintended and unnecessary barriers to vehicle designs.
- Changes to special references in 200-Series FMVSSs, such as references to the “driver’s seat,” and “steering controls”, in order to describe where these items within the vehicle are located.
- Clarifications regarding how the 200-Series FMVSSs apply to vehicles that can be operated by both ADS and by a steering control (dual-mode vehicles), and how some test procedures pertain to vehicles that do not have components referenced therein (e.g., a manual parking brake mechanism).
- Achieves an objective of the Agency with regards to “occupant-less vehicles,” by tailoring the 200-Series FMVSSs to exclude vehicles that are intended to not have human occupants.
- Amendments to terminology used in certain FMVSSs, specifically FMVSS No. 208 as a critical subject, as many of the performance 22 requirements of this standard were written in reference to driver and passenger seating positions. The rules consider the impact of the removal of the term “driver.”
- Several other minor FMVSS amendments.
Click here to view our January 15, 2021 update, which provides details on the Department of Transportation’s Comprehensive Autonomous Vehicle Plan.