Federal Automated Vehicles Policy on Campus

On the heels of September’s announcement and release of the first Federal Automated Vehicles Policy put out by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking for feedback. 

With UC Berkeley AV research specifically noted in Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx’s announcement and ITS affiliate professors Karl Hedrick and Francesco Borrelli on hand with their autonomous vehicle, it was no surprise UC Berkeley was chosen as the first site for discussion with a NHTSA panel just a month later.
 
“This is a very exciting time for Automated Vehicles and their development,” says Borrelli. “We are pleased to host the NHTSA panel discussion and that we are involved in the process.”
 
On Oct. 18, 2016, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, Chief Consul Paul Hemmersbaugh, Director of Governmental Affairs, Policy and Strategic Planning Alison Pascale, Director of Communications Bryan Thomas, and Associate Administrator of Vehicle Safety Research Nat Beuse met with a roomful of interested industry members and UC Berkeley faculty and researchers, including numerous representatives from ITS and its Centers.
 
NHTSA panel members spent time reviewing key points of the policy, emphasizing that the document will be reviewed and updated annually and that many processes in the policy will be driven by the industry, researchers and developments.
 
“We really appreciate this opportunity for all of us to learn and listen as we talk about the Automated Vehicle Policy,” says Rosekind.
 
Discussion also focused on ensuring public buy-in for automated vehicles. According to a Kelley Blue Book study, about 2/3 of Americans think roads would be safer with automated vehicles, but 2/3 still want to be in control of their vehicles. While NHTSA is being proactive about working with the media, politicians and the public on education, Thomas encouraged researchers and industry members to also work on education and communication so people understand where the technology is and how to use it.
 
Questions from the audience focused largely on the checklists, ensuring given information is used, reviewed and available, timely review, and how much data should be shared, which, at this time, is not mandated and NHTSA is looking for the industry and researchers to help figure out what data should be made available and shared.
 
“This is really meant to be proactive on safety,” says Rosekind. “Safety first.”
 
The event wrapped up with a showcase featuring an autonomous vehicle from Borrelli and Hedricks’ lab.