Posts Tagged ‘NHTSA proposed rules’

Pace of technology: Automatic braking for cars

Federal regulators and the auto industry are taking a more lenient approach than safety advocates would like when it comes to phasing in automatic braking systems for passenger cars, according to records of their private negotiations.  The technology automatically applies brakes to prevent or mitigate collisions, rather than waiting for the driver to react. While such systems are already available in dozens of car models, typically as a pricey option on higher-end vehicles, they should be standard in all new cars, according to safety advocates.  But instead of mandating it, the government is trying to work out a voluntary agreement with automakers in hopes of getting it in cars more quickly. The Associated Press has obtained the Meeting minutes from three of the meetings that NHTSA has held with automakers since October which show that the government is considering granting significant concessions.  Records of the third negotiating session, on Nov. 12, show that automatic braking systems would be allowed that slow vehicles by as little as 5 mph before a collision. Furthermore, manufacturers may be allowed to exempt 5 percent of their vehicles from the standard with an additional exemption for models that manufacturers intend to phase out or redesign.  The minutes don’t specify a model year by which the technology would have to be included in cars, but the group did decide that discussion of any deadline would begin with “the latest date submitted by any automaker” for when they would be ready to make the change. Meeting participants included NHTSA, 16 automakers, two auto industry trade groups and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (the insurance industry’s safety research arm). Representatives from Transport Canada, the Canadian government’s auto safety regulator, also attended. NHTSA estimates show that there are about 1.7 million rear-end crashes a year in the U.S., killing more than 200 people, injuring 400,000 others and costing about $47 billion annually. More than half of those crashes could be avoided or mitigated by automatic braking or systems that warn drivers of an impending collision.  NHTSA announced last year that it will include automatic braking and other collision-avoidance technologies in its five-star safety rating program to encourage automakers to more widely adopt the technology. In an unusually pointed criticism, the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates accidents and makes safety recommendations, said in a report last year that “slow and insufficient action” by NHTSA to develop performance standards for automatic braking and collision warning systems and to require the technologies in cars and trucks “has contributed to the ongoing and unacceptable frequency of rear-end crashes.”

NHTSA declares that Google’s AI ‘Driver’ Can Qualify For US Roads

In a letter to Google’s Chris Urmson, the director of the company’s self-driving car project, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concludes that it would consider the company’s self-driving vehicles (SDVs) as having a driver under federal regulations, despite being controlled by a computer.  This means that self-driving or autonomous vehicles are a step closer to America’s highways.  NHTSA posted a detailed response on its Web site. Google’s SDVs are fully autonomous, meaning that the operations of these vehicles are controlled exclusively by a self-driving system (SDS), according to the search giant.  The SDS is an artificial-intelligence (AI) driver, which is a computer designed into the motor vehicle itself that controls all aspects of driving by perceiving its environment and responding to it. Now, according to the NHTSA, that’s enough to qualify for driving. “NHTSA will interpret ‘driver’ in the context of Google’s described motor vehicle design as referring to the (self-driving system), and not to any of the vehicle occupants,” according to the NHTSA, which was released this week. “We agree with Google its (self-driving car) will not have a ‘driver’ in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years.” Google’s cars are designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip. “The next question is whether and how Google could certify that the (self-driving system) meets a standard developed and designed to apply to a vehicle with a human driver,” according to the NHTSA.  

NHTSA to Require ESC for Commercial Trucks and Buses

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued its long-awaited final rule to require electronic stability control (ESC) systems on Class 7-8 trucks and large buses.  The rule, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 136, will take effect for “most heavy trucks” in 2017, according NHTSA. The agency said that compliance will be achieved using a “J-turn” test that replicates a curved highway off-ramp.   “ESC is a remarkable safety success story, a technology innovation that is already saving lives in passenger cars and light trucks,” Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said upon introducing the new rule on June 3. “Requiring ESC on heavy trucks and large buses will bring that safety innovation to the largest vehicles on our highways, increasing safety for drivers and passengers of these vehicles and for all road users.” According to NHTSA, the mandate was needed because “ESC works instantly and automatically to maintain directional control in situations where the driver’s own steering and braking cannot be accomplished quickly enough to prevent the crash.”  The agency stated that implementing “ESC will prevent up to 56 percent of untripped, rollover crashes– that is, rollover crashes not caused by striking an obstacle or leaving the road.” NHTSA estimates the rule will prevent as many as 1,759 crashes, 649 injuries and 49 fatalities annually. The American Trucking Association said it welcomed the mandate. “Ensuring the safety of America’s highways has always been ATA’s highest calling,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves, “and we’ve long known the positive role technology can play in making our vehicles and our roads safer. Today’s announcement by NHTSA will reduce crashes on our highways and make our industry safer.”  “Last month, NHTSA reported to Congress that truck rollover and passenger ejection were the greatest threats to truck driver safety,” said ATA Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki. “We can save lives by preventing rollovers with electronic stability control technology, and that’s a positive for our industry. Many fleets have already begun voluntarily utilizing this technology and this new requirement will only speed that process.”

Proposed NHTSA Regulations to Protect Passengers in Motorcoaches and Large Buses

The United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a new federal motor vehicle safety standard to protect motorcoach and other large bus passengers in rollover crashes.  The proposal aims to improve the structural design to ensure that passengers are better protected in rollover crashes by ensuring the space around them remains intact and the emergency exits remain operable. The proposed standard would establish performance requirements that each new motorcoach and large bus must meet when subjected to a dynamic test in which the motorcoach or bus is tipped over from a raised platform onto a hard level surface.  The proposed standard would:
  • Required space around occupant seating positions be maintained to afford occupants survivable space in a crash
  • Requires seats, overhead luggage racks and window glazing to remain attached to their mountings during and after testing; and
  • Require emergency exits to remain closed during the rollover test and operable after test.
Both the proposed test procedure and performance requirements are closely modeled after European regulations for large buses.  In a separate rulemaking action to improve safety even further, NHTSA is planning on finalizing requirements later this year for stability control technologies in these vehicles, which would help prevent rollovers from occurring. “Approximately 700 million trips are taken on commercial buses each year.  Raising the standard for motorcoache’s durability, in the event of a crash, is critical to saving the lives of the passengers inside.” said FMCSA Administrator Ann Ferro.  “In addition to taking critical steps to improve the structural design of buses, we are committed to further increasing motorcoach safety through stricter oversight, in-depth investigations into high risk companies, and by ensuring that drivers are properly licensed and medically fit for the job.” To read more visit the following link: NPRM