NHTSA Requests Data from Automakers on Level 2 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration seeks data to perform a “comparative analysis” related to a recent Tesla investigation

October 21, 2021
On September 14, 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it has requested data from a dozen original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to support the agency’s ongoing investigation of Tesla, Inc.

The investigation launched by NHTSA in August has been aimed at completing a preliminary evaluation of the automaker’s Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)-equipped vehicles and crashes involving the company’s Traffic Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer functions. NHTSA has said the subsequent request for similar data from a dozen automotive companies—including General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co., BMW of North America, LLC, Kia Motors, and others—will support “comparative analysis amongst production vehicles equipped with the ability to control both steering and braking/accelerating simultaneously under some circumstances.”

In response, OEMs will need to report information to NHTSA encompassing a wide range of parameters related to their Level 2 ADAS systems. These include the intended operational design domain (ODD), the object and event detection and response (OEDR) capabilities, the driver monitoring function, the maximum control authority (e.g., max steering, braking etc.), the processes for identifying and investigating crashes, and more. Additional data—ranging from location, road, and weather conditions to vehicle speed and direction and driver engagement leading to a crash when Level 2 ADAS systems were engaged—are requested for any of the following:

  • Consumer complaints
  • Field reports
  • Reports involving a subject crash, injury, or fatality
  • Property damage claims
  • Third-party arbitration proceedings where the manufacturer is or was a party to the arbitration
  • Lawsuits, both pending and closed, in which the manufacturer is or was a defendant or codefendant.

As the investigation evolves and OEMs begin responding to NHTSA’s request, incident reporting and data collection from more manufacturers will provide insights into the real-world performance of Level 2 ADAS systems. OEMs will likely also be asked to respond to any follow-up inquiries from NHTSA that result from providing their baseline data and work with NHTSA on the analysis of these data, aspects relevant to OEM specifications, and conclusions.

How Exponent Can Help

Exponent’s multi-disciplinary experts from our vehicle engineering, human factors, electrical engineering and computer science, and data sciences practices have been involved in evaluating the performance of driver assistance systems for over a decade. Today, we are actively investigating both the present-day performance and future evolution of these systems for collision warning and mitigation, automated features, and connected vehicle technology. Our consultants are involved in the testing and analysis of ADAS systems both during development and when equipped vehicles are involved in accidents. Exponent is well-versed in not only assessing driver behavior and the performance of various ADAS applications but also providing customized testing (including the re-enactment of complex scenarios) and conducting independent reviews and statistical analyses of field performance data.

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