The American Transportation Research Institute has published a new report that looks at how government regulations are affecting the evolution of autonomous vehicle technology, as well as the role government plays in the testing and overseeing of these technologies in the real world.
The study also proposes a framework by which autonomous truck standards could be developed.
The report documents the dozens of local, state and federal activities that guide and regulate autonomous truck activities. While most attempt to create a framework for the safe testing of autonomous trucks, ATRI notes, the myriad state and local activities ultimately impede the creation of a seamless and standardized autonomous truck network.
Even those government rules that ostensibly support autonomous truck development often are too prescriptive to generate meaningful outcomes, it says. For example, multiple vendors highlight Level 4 testing, even though regulations require constant control of the vehicles by both drivers and onboard engineers – making it difficult for motor carrier executives to accurately assess the real value of ATs.
Congress initially entered the legislative fold concerning autonomous vehicles during the 2017-2018 session with the development of two bills, the SELF DRIVE Act in the House of Representatives and AV START Act in the Senate, which both relate to the development, testing, and implementation of these technologies. While neither of the bills made it to the floor for a vote, it is important to understand the foundation they both attempted to lay down concerning autonomous technology.
The SELF DRIVE Act would have preempted “states from enacting laws regarding the design, construction, or performance of” AV technologies “unless such laws enact standards identical to federal standards.” The AV Start Act would have preempted “states from adopting, maintaining, or enforcing any law, rule, or standard regulating” AV technologies “regarding certain safety evaluation report subject areas.” But, due to the complexity of trying to connect the network of state laws concerning interstate commerce, ATRI highlighted the fact that the potential use cases for AV should probably limited to local or regional operations in locations with favorable regulatory frameworks.
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You can download the full report here.