House Committee Approves the Self Drive Act
August 2, 2017
On July 27, 2017, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved bipartisan legislation defining the federal government’s role in ensuring the safety of highly automated vehicles as it relates to their design, construction, and performance by encouraging their testing and deployment.

The legislation seeks to harmonize regulations at the state and federal level by pre-empting states from regulating the design, construction or performance of highly automated vehicles, automated driving systems, or components of automated driving systems unless such regulation is identical to federal standards.

Key parts of this legislation include a requirement for manufacturers to develop a cybersecurity plan and a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) exemption policy allowing manufacturers to deploy and test vehicles on public roads. The exemption policy is phased and starts at 25,000 vehicles per manufacturer in the first year, growing to 100,000 vehicles by the third and fourth years. It is further expected that manufacturers will be required to provide information about all crashes which involve such exempt vehicles.

Notably, exemptions from crashworthiness or occupant protection standards will not be granted until assessment certifications rules will be defined. These rules will be issued no later than 24 months after enactment of the proposed legislation and until then there will be an interim requirement that safety assessment letters be submitted to the NHTSA per the recent Federal Automated Vehicles Policy.

Included in this legislation is also a call for a study to determine the most effective method and terminology for informing consumers for each highly automated vehicle or a vehicle that performs partial driving automation about the capabilities and limitations of that vehicle. The legislation also seeks to create a Highly Automated Vehicle Advisory Committee with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

How Exponent Can Help

Exponent has a diverse yet specialized team of consultants addressing the needs of clients in the automated vehicles space, drawing from the Vehicle, Human Factors, Biomechanics, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, and Statistical & Data Science practices. Exponent can assist clients with:

  • Peer reviews of safety assessment plans.
  • Assessing compliance with crash reporting requirements.
  • Developing and implementing cybersecurity plans.
  • Testing and analyzing new vehicle and occupant concepts from crashworthiness and occupant safety perspectives.
  • Developing deployment and test plans and managing associated risks.

For more information, please contact one of Exponent’s highly-qualified and experienced consultants:

  • Ryan Harrington, Bob Lange, Ryan Yee and Carmine Senatore – Vehicle Engineering
  • David Cades and Ben Lester – Human Factors
  • Brad McGoran and Christopher Williams – Statistical & Data Sciences