NHTSA: Glazing FMVSS Could Pose Obstacle for Autonomous Vehicles

Mark Rosekind

Mark Rosekind

When it comes to the development of autonomous vehicles, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) could be an obstacle. This is according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which released an initial report that identifies which areas of the FMVSS could prove to be an issue and glazing is one of those spotlighted.

First introduced through the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, the FMVSS have “generally been developed with the assumption that vehicles subject to them would be driven by a human driver,” according to the report.

However, technology has evolved so quickly over the last ten years, the U.S. Department of Transportation decided to review how automated vehicles would fit into these standards. The agency plans to holding meetings to discuss the FMVSS.

The standards’ topics of glazing materials, power operated windows, partition, roof panel systems, as well as rear visibility, windshield wiping and washing systems, and windshield defrosting and defogging systems were all addressed in the report as a potential areas of certification concern.

“They have a presence of language, test procedures, or other content that might create certification challenges,” according to the report.

Glazing materials (FMVSS 205) could cause certification issues for highly automated vehicles with advanced design, highly automated vehicles with novel design, riderless delivery motorcycles, driverless delivery vehicles (light duty and heavy duty), low-speed highly automated vehicles with advanced design and low-speed driverless-delivery vehicles.

The report also identified certification concerns regarding power operated windows, partition and roof panel systems (FMVSS 118) for highly automated vehicles with advanced designs, highly automated vehicles with novel designs, riderless delivery motorcycles, driverless delivery vehicle (light duty and heavy duty).

The rear visibility standard (FMVSS 111) concerns were tied to highly automated vehicles with advanced design, highly automated vehicles with novel design, riderless delivery motorcycles, driverless delivery vehicles (light duty and heavy duty), low-speed highly automated vehicles with advanced design and low-speed driverless-delivery vehicles.

The introduction of autonomous vehicles could also be hindered by the windshield wiping and washing systems standard (FMVSS 104). Potential models impacted include highly automated vehicles with advanced design, highly automated vehicles with novel design, riderless delivery motorcycles and driverless delivery vehicles (light duty and heavy duty).

Another area that raised questions was the windshield defrosting and defogging systems standard (FMVSS 103). This standard could dampen the certification of highly automated vehicles with advanced design, highly automated vehicles with novel design, riderless delivery motorcycles and driverless delivery vehicles (light duty and heavy duty).

“This preliminary report identifies instances where the existing FMVSS may pose challenges to the introduction of a range of automated vehicles. It identifies standards requiring further review—both to ensure that existing regulations do not unduly stifle innovation and to help ensure that automated vehicles are able to perform their functions safely,” according to the report.

The report was not designed to identify whether there may need to be new vehicle safety standards and regulations.

“The Volpe Center report is a great first look at the current standards,” says Mark Rosekind, NHTSA administrator.

NHTSA will hold a pair of public meetings this spring to gather input as it develops guidelines to help in the deployment of automated safety technology. The first meeting will be held April 8, 2016 in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters.

To read the full report, click here.

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