DOT Slates Public Hearings on Autonomous Vehicle Safety

March 11, 2016

By David Cullen

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Freightliner Inspriation autonomous truck at its rollout last Spring. Photo: Stephane Babcock
Freightliner Inspriation autonomous truck at its rollout last Spring. Photo: Stephane Babcock

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced in a March 11 blog post that DOT will hold two public hearings, one in Washington, D.C., and one in California, to get input on “how to best integrate the safe operation of automated vehicles.”  

The first hearing will take place April 8th in Washington; a date for the California event has not been announced.

“The feedback from these meetings will help the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration provide manufacturers with the rules of the road for how we expect automated vehicles to operate safely,” Foxx wrote.   

He also advised that NHTSA is “continuing to take other key steps to support the development of new technologies, including working with local and state leaders on model state policy so that we have some overarching safety principles nationwide, and determining what new regulatory tools and authorities may be needed to meet their safety mission in a time of rapidly changing technology.”    

In addition, NHTSA has released a Volpe Center report prepared for DOT that identifies potential barriers and challenges for the certification of automated vehicles using existing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Foxx said that the FMVSS “may have to adjust for this new era. The report found that for cars with traditional designs and controls, there are only minimal federal regulatory hurdles; however, there may be greater obstacles for vehicle manufacturers that design cars without controls for human drivers, such as a steering wheel or brake pedals.  

“The Volpe Center report underscores the need for the actions we’re taking,” he continued. “It confirms that we need to establish clear expectations for safe deployment, and tells us that NHTSA has more work to do to ensure the safety of new innovations. We look forward to learning more from stakeholders as we start that work.”

Foxx’s blog post does not specifically mention autonomous commercial vehicles.

However, the Volpe report examines numerous autonomous vehicle concepts, including truck platooning and various types of light- and heavy-duty “driverless delivery vehicles” along with a “riderless delivery motorcycle.”


  1. 1. Ace Diamond [ April 02, 2016 @ 09:54AM ]

    The simple fact is that most fatalities on the roads today are caused by distracted driving and driving under the influence of some substance. These causes can be remedied in several ways and autonomous technology is not the only method, nor is it the most effective cure. In fact, today's autonomous technology would do a lot more harm than good. It would be like giving everyone Chemo without first trying to figure out who has cancer.

    One problem with autonomous trucks is that truckers will be required to go further without rest because their jobs will be automated. Whenever worker responsibilities and functions are replaced by automation, jobs suffer….but this is not the main reason why I am commenting to this article….there is a much bigger problem than this.

    Today’s autonomous vehicle technology depends 100% on the use of radar. OSHA has very clear guidelines on limiting occupational exposure to radar. The FCC also has strict regulations on the occupational exposure to radar. The US Army has strict policies on radar and recognizes that microwaves cause cancer. Some automobile manufacturers could care less about the impact of radar on cancer rates and are willing to supersaturate our streets with radar….probably because they see autonomous vehicles as a huge opportunity for profit. One manufacturer in particular arms all of his vehicles with powerful radar that is always on.

  2. 2. Ace Diamond [ April 02, 2016 @ 09:57AM ]

    So, the good news for truckers is that even with the streets supersaturated with microwaves from all this radar, they will be well protected from microwave intrusion since most of the microwaves will be targeting them from behind (Hillary’s favorite penetration position). The road users who will be the most vulnerable will be the bikers. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think it is very wrong for drivers like me to give cancer to bikers simply because I’m considered by Hillary to be too dumb to drive. Also, it seems that many folks enjoy driving, so I’m not sure why Hillary wants to take all the fun out of driving and replace it with something that has been proven to be a powerful carcinogen.

    Imagine a bunch of Teslas stopped at a light next to a school. All the children crossing the street in front of those Teslas will be impregnated by radar….and microwaves pass right through clothing and are absorbed by the skin. Musk arms every Tesla he makes with powerful radar. The big problem will not be if there is one car in a hundred that has radar….the problem will be in the cumulative effects if all cars and trucks are generating microwaves with radar.

    It is also important to note that Hillary and President Obama are so enamored with this stuff, they and other socialists will conspire to falsify accident rates of autonomous vehicles just to force these down our throats and up our…

    Why do you think President Obama spends his Valentine’s days with Musk???


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