Connecting vehicles: we’re almost there

Since 2014, the USDOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has worked to help public agencies keep pace with car manufacturers’ advances.

A long-awaited proposal requiring vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology on all new cars and light-duty vehicles was released in January 2017. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 150 would mandate using dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) to transmit location, direction, and speed to nearby vehicles.

Open for comment until April 12, 2017.

Connecting vehicles and the road: help just arrived

Also in January, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued guidance for vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications to prepare for emerging technologies and leverage federal funds to implement them.

Set aside time to explore Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I). Resources include:

Pavement markings: standards on the horizon

Also on the V2I front and also in January, FHWA proposed a new standard for maintaining pavement marking retroreflectivity.

FHWA plans to add minimum retroreflectivity levels to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, in part to improve infrastructure’s ability to support driver assistance systems. An American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and SAE International (formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers) task force is developing a specification that includes criteria for road markings for vehicle cameras that detect and use lane markings for features such as lane departure warnings and lane keeping assist. Open for comment until May 4, 2017.

Bipartisan legislation: believe it or not, unity

In February 2017, Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) announced plans to streamline laws for testing self-driving vehicles. “Our effort will also include a discussion on the existing patchwork of laws and regulations and the traditional roles of federal and state regulators,” says their joint statement. Republican House of Representatives leaders said they’ll collaborate on that legislation.

A policy handbook for state DOTs

In September 2016, NHTSA released a 116-page policy handbook for testing and deploying AVs. The guideline provides a model regulatory framework for states to legislate these vehicles and standardize the supporting infrastructure.

Guidelines for safe real-world testing

SAE International Standard J3018 provides guidelines for road-testing highly automated prototype vehicles. It’s intended to help “not only the engineers who are developing these systems, but also officials concerned about what’s appropriate on public roads.”