FMCSA says development of autonomous-truck technologies may be outpacing fleet ability to...

FMCSA says development of autonomous-truck technologies may be outpacing fleet ability to consider how to integrate them into their operations.

Photo: Jim Park

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants to learn more about how the trucking industry might integrate trucks with autonomous technology into fleets.

In a notice published in the Nov. 3 Federal Register, FMCSA announced a proposed information collection project titled Trucking Fleet Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for Managing Mixed Fleets.

Although highly automated trucks, or what FMCSA is calling automated driving systems or ADS, “hold the promise of increased safety, productivity, and efficiency, it is not clear how these vehicles should be integrated into fleet operations with conventional trucks for mixed-fleet operations,” the agency said in its notice.

The agency said it’s concerned that technical progress is moving faster than the ability of truck fleets and others in the industry to keep up and figure out how they will be implemented in daily operations. “This may adversely affect adoption by truck fleets and associated industries, resulting in the delayed achievement of safety, productivity, and efficiency benefits of ADS-equipped trucks.”

It plans a survey of approximately 2,000 respondents, including fleet managers, truck sales personnel, state and federal government personnel, industry engineers, researchers, and commercial drivers. The questionnaire is designed to collect baseline opinions of automated driving systems before and after hands-on demonstrations of these technologies.

Part of the development of CONOPS includes a series of outreach events where the public, with a focus on truck drivers and truck fleet managers, will have the opportunity to meet ADS technology developers and original equipment manufacturers. The outreach will also provide opportunities to participate in hands-on technology demonstrations, such as in-vehicle demonstrations and closed-course scenarios. The hands-on demos will expose truck fleet managers and other stakeholders to ADS; collect qualitative data on participants' opinions and perceptions regarding ADS; and use the data to ensure the CONOPS covers major industry concerns.

The agency is planning four roadshows to coincide with large conferences, such as the Technology Maintenance Council Annual Meeting, the North American Commercial Vehicle Show, the Society of Automotive Engineers COMVEC, and the Automated Vehicle Symposium. It will survey participants before and after the events to see if their opinions on the technologies change.

Comments must be submitted on or before Jan. 4, 2021. Instructions are included in the Federal Register Notice.

LISTEN: HDT Talks Trucking podcast, Cops and Robots: How Do We Enforce Autonomous Trucks?

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