Products Liability Law Daily DOT affirms central role over automated vehicle tech collaboration, clarifies key principles for stakeholders
Thursday, January 9, 2020

DOT affirms central role over automated vehicle tech collaboration, clarifies key principles for stakeholders

By Leah S. Poniatowski, J.D.

New report provides ten guiding principles, drawing in 38 governmental stakeholders impacted by the emerging technology.

The federal Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a new report, clarifying its goal to be proactive in its oversight over the development of automated vehicle (AV) technology in order to ensure safety, security, privacy, and U.S. leadership in the emerging technology. The report expands on prior guidance issued by DOT and reflects ten principles adopted by a National Science and Technology Council action committee. The report also highlights the involvement and activities of 38 government entities in order to facilitate collaboration (Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies, Automated Vehicles 4.0: A Report by the National Science & Technology Council and the United States Department of Transportation, January 2020).

Automated vehicle technology. The benefits of implementing and developing automated vehicle technologies are as broad and varied as the government, industry, and other stakeholders involved. In light of the emergent status of the technology, DOT’s new report, referred to AV 4.0, establishes the agency’s central role in facilitating collaboration among the many players as guided by ten key principles. This report expands upon the prior report, Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0, and presents the resulting ten principles adopted by the National Science and Technology Council’s Automated Vehicle Fast Track Action Committee.

Key Principles. The ten principles fall under three core interests: protecting users and communities, promoting efficient markets, and facilitating coordinated efforts. Under the user and community protection interest, the guiding principles include: prioritizing safety; emphasizing security and cybersecurity; ensuring privacy and data security; and enhancing mobility and accessibility. Concerning the promotion of efficient markets, the report reflects that the federal government will strive to: remain technology neutral; protect American innovation and creativity; and modernize regulations. Finally, under the coordinated effort interest, the principles are: to promote consistent standards and policies; to ensure a consistent federal approach; and to improve transportation system-level effects.

Government efforts. At present, development of AV is a priority of the federal government and it has undertaken several initiatives to assist development of the technology. In addition to hosting workshops and making strategy documents available, the federal government has also invested in the research and development of AV technology. Specifically, it has invested in safety, mobility, security and cybersecurity, infrastructure, and connectivity research and development.

NHTSA's involvement. Among the many agencies and other government actors, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a key stakeholder in light of the agency’s core mission to protect motorists. Accordingly, NHTSA is impacted by its role in creating and enforcing safety standards of vehicles on roadways, including adaptive motor vehicle equipment for people with disabilities. NHTSA also has been involved in research with respect to driverless vehicles and has published guidance to the automotive industry, in addition to exploring alternative tools for measuring safety. In addition, NHTSA has assisted, and continues to assist, other stakeholders in areas of cybersecurity and consumer privacy.

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